Every time I see this sign — on the side of a building in downtown Pensacola, Fla., — I always think it’s talking about my chosen-and-now-part-time field of journalism and how truly it is “citizen journalism” because reporters don’t have to earn specialized degrees or procure official certifications or register anywhere for anything. Can you write clearly, accurately, entertainingly and well? Good. You’re hired. Do you make things up, ignore the facts and don’t understand the difference between “you’re” and “your”? Sorry. Nice try. On the other hand, as journalism jobs disappear and the journalism landscape shifts almost daily, training and professionalism are key. Another thought: This obviously is my morning to ramble. Perhaps I should get ready to go to work? And kudos to the registered professional COURT reporters at Hitchcock & Associates in Pensacola. Love your sign.
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
Yes, this is my friend Bonnie. Standing on a car. It looks as if she’s miraculously balancing on top of a huge Rick and Bubba sign — and if anybody could do that, it would be her — but she’s actually standing on top of her car, which is holding up the huge Rick and Bubba sign with help from assistants Jana, left, and Cheryl. And this was 5:45 a.m. In the morning. I’m there, too, taking this photo. And why were we in this Birmingham, Ala., parking lot at 5:45 a.m. standing on a car holding a huge Rick and Bubba sign? Of course, it was all Bonnie’s idea — and it was a good idea. The whole thing was a surprise birthday party for our other friend, Cathy Layne. Cathy is a huge fan of the Rick and Bubba radio show, which is broadcast from studios in Birmingham, where Bonnie and Cathy live. So Bonnie concocted an elaborate scheme to surprise Cathy with tickets to a broadcast. She couldn’t get tickets for Cathy’s actual birthday — the closest was almost a month later — so of course she was hoping that would really throw the birthday girl off. Then she told Cathy that Jana, Cheryl and I were stopping in Birmingham to spend the night on our way to Florida and we had to get up early the next morning to make it to Pensacola by noon and we wanted to go to Panera Bread (love their Cinnamon Crunch bagels) for breakfast before we hit the road. Cathy was suspicious but went along with it. She met us — along with Angela and Karen, a couple of their other Birmingham friends — and by the time she walked into the parking lot, she said later, she had it figured out. But we all had fun anyway. Who wouldn’t with this crew? And the sign? It had hung at Rick and Bubba’s former restaurant, where Cathy’s son had worked. He rescued the sign when it was thrown out after the restaurant closed and kept it at his mom’s house. Bonnie thought it would be fun to take the sign to the studio and give it back to Rick and Bubba, but she was frantic when she found out Cathy’s son had taken the sign to Auburn for a recent ESPN Game Day, although it didn’t get on camera. So she had to devise some complicated maneuvering to secretly get the sign back so Cathy wouldn’t know — and, of course, she succeeded, because if Bonnie puts her mind to something, she’s going to do it. I’m so glad we’re friends! Actually, she and Jana are long-time friends since they practically grew up together. But Jana is so generous that she even shares her friends, so we northwest Alabama friends of Jana luckily get to be friends with her Birmingham bunch, too.
It was so much fun to sit in on the Rick and Bubba show. Even if you disagree with their politics, you have to admit that they are master entertainers and so good at what they do. I also admire Rick’s strong faith in light of the accidental death of his young son. They were hospitable hosts, and it was fascinating to watch the behind-the-scenes proceedings of a radio broadcast. Visit their Web site, http://www.rickandbubba.com/, to learn more about their show. I think they were tickled about getting their sign back, although they assured us that we really didn’t have to go to all that trouble!