I am a veteran newspaper journalist who earned his first paycheck as a reporter in 1978. As a high school junior I covered sports for The County Leader, the community weekly newspaper. My clips from those days are stashed away in one of those green storage containers – you know, the ones used for Christmas lights.
It’s easy for me to recall even now the thrill of seeing my early bylines on a regular basis. Plus, I got paid – just for going to games, pounding out stories on a typewriter (heh-heh) and dropping the copy through the newspaper’s mail slot every Sunday night. After delivering the copy, I’d often treat myself with a stop at the McDonald’s in Newtown Square.
I’ve been a reporter, columnist, business editor, assistant city editor, copy desk chief, new media editor and editor for three daily newspapers on two coasts. The full-time journalism adventure began in suburban Philadelphia, Pa., in 1984. Nearly 30 years later, newspapering still thrills me – even with the myriad of challenges facing the industry. Yes, survival is one those challenges!
How many other professions allow a person to start anew every work day? Yes, there are routines: Reporters cover the same beats, copy editors deal with familiar page layouts, photographers shoot the same scenes, etc. But we start fresh daily. We have the opportunity to do something different every day. And if we are really up to the task – if we dare to push ourselves – we follow the advice drilled into me by a noted industry figure: Do something better every day.
Len La Barth
A newspaperman reads and reflects.
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