Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

MY TURN: Journalism Basics Won't Change

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

MY TURN: Journalism Basics Won't Change

Article excerpt

The view from long ago and far away sees with surprising clarity what it was that raised you, schooled you, tamed you and shaped you into whomever you became. It is not foolish to look back, knowing those times cannot be reclaimed, because memories good and bad are pleasures preserved and lessons learned.

The principles of journalism that I have practiced for half a century were given me as a teenager by the editors and reporters of The Birmingham News. I would watch them, poised and confident, labor on deadline after deadline to reach for the deepest meaning of our line of work: the exact word, the right tone, the sharp headline and accuracy above all. They were the soul of Alabama's most powerful daily. I can call their names today, as if it were yesterday and they were still living.

A boy became a man professionally under their guidance, encouragement and helpful criticism. Finally full time, after college, my byline began to appear regularly on page one news and features. The senior editor himself motivated me.

"Learn to do it all," he said.

I did as I was told, which set my course for the coming of Alabama's aerospace importance, school integration, bloody crimes, Martin Luther King Jr., George Wallace, the Sixteenth Street church murders, hate groups, extreme heat and cold and (my favorites) countless pieces about good ol' plain people and those of them who suffered bad things. A young reporter's cup ran over with fulfillment.

Career wings flew me elsewhere over the years, into related fields but never far from the hub. Full circle finally led me back into the daily business, 15 years as senior editor in Florence and Tuscaloosa. Those newspapers and others of their size - Anniston, Gadsden, Dothan, Montgomery, Decatur, Auburn-Opelika - now inherit the mantle of daily authority and leadership, their franchise local coverage of every description and all the state news they can muster.

The Internet and social media - if the two can be separated - plus our obsession for instant everything appear to have won the day and all but neutered the Huntsville Times, Mobile Press Register and Birmingham News. …

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