I’m not sure when exactly I started reading the newspaper, but it was pretty early on. We always had a paper in the house and being the magnet for words that I was, I was drawn to them. I leafed through the community papers, read my horoscope in the dailies, shared the comics with my dad, and on Sunday mornings, as he drank his coffee and read his paper, I’d be sitting right next to him snatching up the discarded sections. Newspapers have always been apart of my life, and I always thought they would be.
It was on my 14th birthday when I decided to go into journalism. I had just read my horoscope in the morning paper, and in addition to it telling me that I shared the same birthday as Marky Mark Wahlberg, it also said that I was destined to be a journalist. Obviously I took it to heart. Good thing I love writing 😀
That being said, as I read Late Edition, A Love Story by veteran journalist Bob Greene, I found my heart repeatedly being torn apart.
This book is all about the now defunct Citizen Journal, the first newspaper that Greene wrote for as a high school kid in the summer in the 1960s and then later as a college student. These were the days when a reporter could walk straight into a crime scene, whether it be a fire, a drug raid, or a bank robbery and not one officer would blink an eye. It was as though they belonged there. These were the days of criss cross directories, typewriters and linotype machines. They were the days when reporters stored flasks in their desk drawers, and trolled around town in press cars. They were simple days.
I never knew those days. When I came into the industry seven years ago, it was all computers, no alcohol, no press cars, and information access was heavily controlled everywhere you turned. But I’m pretty sure I got into this industry for the same reasons that Bob Greene and several other journalists did: a love of words, a love of sharing stories, a love of being apart of something so visible, so valued.
Reading about how this industry, that I too am a part of, and that I too fell in love with, has changed over the years and knowing the sad state that it has become had me yearning more than once for those days of yore. And even though Greene didn’t have me so riveted I couldn’t put the book down like fellow journalist Rick Bragg has had me with all his books, I still found it a really interesting read, especially when he pointed out, upon reflection, the signs of change that were evident even way back then. But if you’re going to read it, be warned, if you’re a journalist like me, who fell so madly in love with this industry, be prepared for heartbreak.
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading two books, actually, Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac, and a biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, by Conrad Black. The Kerouac book is so old the pages are yellow and the front cover is missing. Black’s book, which I can’t imagine was written without an ARMY of researchers, I bought brand-new but stopped reading part-way through because … I can’t remember why. Maybe I just got tired of holding the big book up 🙂 But you know, despite my tendency to flatter – reading your blog is more enjoyable, more interesting than both the hotshot writers. I relate to your story, I guess. I love words too. I started reading the newspaper when I was seven or eight years old, and, just like you, I sat on the floor, beside my father sitting in His Chair, waiting for him to drop the sections he’d finished so I could read them. Dharma Bums I can only relate to occasionally in the freewheeling craziness that comes to you On The Road. President Roosevelt I relate to even less. Thanks for the trip back in time, Ms Bartel 🙂