This is the one spot in the world — that I know of, at least — where three of my worlds collide. And, strangely enough, I’m pretty much the only person who takes notice of such a significant location. Everybody else just hurries past because they have Things To Do. But not me. Well, I usually do have Things To Do, but whenever I’m here at this spot, I always stop and consider that I have at one time worked and/or am currently working for all of these newspapers. I just think that’s … well, I’m not sure what I think about it. Only that these three papers represent a huge chunk of what I do and who I am and, as different as they are from each other, it’s sort of jarring, I guess, to see them all lined up. It’s the majority of my working life, lurking outside of Jack’s in Iuka, Miss. And then, of course, I get to thinking about newspapers (see “the demise of “) and friends & talented journalists who are moving on before they get moved and the painfully irretrievable loss that is. Sigh. Deep, deep sigh. On the other hand, each of these papers serves its community brilliantly, and I’m honored to be a tiny part of that success. (Also: They all have “Daily” in the title although one of them is lying.)
When I worked at my college newspaper some 30 years ago, we were in an office above one of the school cafeterias. We had rickety typewriters and iffy lighting and most days had to steal chairs from other rooms down the hall. Today, my university has a whole new building dedicated to the communication arts. I think I’m jealous. In a good way. Because if the next generation of journalists is getting support, encouragement and quality training, then I feel better about the future of newspapers. Read more at my column today in the TimesDaily, http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20090206/ARTICLES/902060302
On Tuesday, my husband, John Pitts, and I led workshops at the Student Publications Boot Camp for the University of North Alabama’s student newspaper, the Flor-Ala. John did design and I did feature writing, although of course John equally could have done feature writing while design makes me throw up. (Who can handle all that stress and pressure???) Anyway, we had a great time. The world’s future is in great hands if these young people will be in charge. (Full disclosure: Older daughter, Liz, was the Flor-Ala lifestyles editor three/four years ago.) These kids are smart, engaged, enthusiatic, curious and a lot of fun — and are well on their way to making this semester of UNA student journalism a stellar one. Check it out at http://www.florala.net/home/.
On our way home, John and I wandered down Nostalgia Lane and talked about college newspapers today versus the olden days of the 1970s when we hung out in the Sidelines offices at the University of Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro. We noted differences: typewriters v. computers, drinking/smoking v. not drinking/smoking, diversity v. not much. And in the some-things-never-change category, we both agreed that college newspapers seem to attract the same motley crew of personalities no matter where or when: The free-spirit photographers, the creative art folks, the copy editor who just wants people to get their stories in on time, the writers who are serious about their jobs and the organized and determined editor who’s going to pull it all together. Aw, youth!
Anyway, thanks to the Flor-Ala adviser, MJ Jennings, for a great day. Hope we get invited back.