Journalism has been my chosen career for more than 50 years and I’ve always felt almost magically blessed that I am in a profession I so treasure. I got in with no education and actually couldn’t even type when I began as a copy boy in 1964, just out of high school.
Through the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, ’00s and ’10s I worked at various levels, various types and styles and with print and electronic outlets, daily, weekly, monthly, slick and newsprint. Always, it was about good reporting and good writing and ultimately photography was mixed in. I love it all.
In the past few years, though, journalism as I knew it has been under siege from every side: technology, corporate ownership, shrinking revenues, the Trump Administration, print costs and a number of other variables. Our local daily here has undergone a number of changes that have affected its quality pretty severely and now its management has been taken over by a company whose goals are not clear to me, but I’m certain it is not improved journalism.
The one constant in all this, despite the slow crumbling of the empire, has been that a solid core of journalists has remained true to the inspiration that led them into the profession. The local daily–despite a corporate policy against giving raises without promotions–has a number of solid professionals and they push against the tide constantly to turn out stories that mean something, though their resources have dwindled steadily.
I admire these professionals and am grateful for their commitment. Some of the names in Roanoke are Laurence Hammack, Dan Casey, Luanne Rife, Brian Kelly, Matt Chittum, Neil Harvey, Todd Jackson, Tonia Moxley, Jeff Sturgeon, Neil Harvey, Mike Allen, Ralph Berrier, Doug Doughty, Matt Gentry, Stephanie Klein-Davis and Dwayne Yancey. That’s not all of them, just the ones with whom I’m most familiar.
I don’t know if the end is near for newspapers, but it is not for journalists. As long as people care about truth–and most people still do, despite appearances–they’ll have jobs. Thank god for that.