It’s strange to see myself in this fashion, but I am going to face a harsh reality. I worked in a profession that is fading ever so steadily into what we often call the “dustbin of history.”
I was a print journalist for nearly 37 years. I wrote news stories and then opinion pieces for newspapers in Oregon and Texas. Then my days as a full-timer ended almost a decade ago. I am back at it these days as a freelance reporter for a weekly newspaper, the Farmersville Times, in Collin County, Texas; I also write feature stories for the public radio station over yonder in Hunt County, at KETR-FM, which is affiliated with Texas A&M University-Commerce. For the record … I am having the time of my life.
My wife and I were walking through our neighborhood today and as we walked past the school nearby, I recalled returning in 1983 to the grade school I attended in Portland. My fifth-grade shop teacher, John Eide, invited me to participate in a “career day” event at the school. I accepted the invitation gladly and spoke to youngsters at Harvey W. Scott Elementary School about the joy of pursuing a craft I loved.
I had been at it for about seven years at that point. I was still pretty new to journalism, but I loved my job and looked forward to the career I would enjoy. The next 30 years were filled with loads of fun, excitement and hard work. I am proud of the career I built.
I am wondering, though: Do they still have career days and if so, do they invite newspaper reporters to speak to aspiring youngsters about how to pursue a career in journalism?
If they do, what do today’s journalists tell these future reporters? My hunch would be they would tell them to keep their powder dry if they intend to work for newspapers (if the students even know what a newspaper is these days).
Will my granddaughter, who’s now 9 years old, know about what Grandpa did for a living? I will look forward one day to explaining it to her. I fear there might not be anyone still doing precisely the work that gave me so much joy and fulfillment.