A series of events last week gave perspective on a profession I have been in since 1957, writing for the Amherst Advocate and the Falcon Flyer, the high school paper.
It began with reaction to comments by Kevin Durant, who uncharacteristically responded to often-asked questions about discontent within the National Basketball Association Oklahoma City team, the future of its coach Scott Brooks, the reigning MVP’s future with the Thunder and rumored differences with teammate Russell Westbrook.
Several writers in opinion pieces took exception to how Durant responded, in newspaper and other media.
It gained traction as talk shows – including several that seldom do sports – and veteran columnists were critical of many in the media “who over value their importance.”
Included was Mike Greenberg, a Northwestern journalism graduate, who pointed out there is a difference between journalism and media – as the former has standards on reporting factual news and is aware a natural adversarial relationship exists with a subject in a story. Greenberg, a sports talk show host, began his career as a Chicago sports writer.
A panel of veteran “Sports Reporters” gave similar views, adding that many writers have the attitude of “being a valuable part of the story/news.”
Social media gives everybody and anybody a forum to give views that often have no basis, Greenberg surmised.
Gov. Scott Walker, who has given pundits enough fodder during his reign, came under fire for his response to questions about President Obama’s beliefs.
A headline Sunday over an Associated Press story: Walker says he doesn’t know if Obama loves his country.
Walker did not raise the issue of love of country or religious belief. The country issue was by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani during a speech at a meeting of the National Governors Association.
“You should ask the president what he thinks about America,” Walker answered. “I’ve never asked him so I don’t know.”
Other questions were in the same vein, with any response having the same effect of “when did you stop beating your spouse?” These are the type of headlines and stories that sold tabloids in checkout lines.
This column evolved during a meeting with Joe Marquardt, New London school’s director of business services, and John Faucher, at which a variety of topics – job satisfaction and goals, economic issues, education and journalism/media – were discussed.
Marquardt who replaced Dick Yerkey, a source for school financial issues during my career, is a recent resident of the New London School District.
One of my questions was on his future in the district because it is an in-demand type job in schools and public/private finance management.
Marquardt said his decision would not be determined on money alone.
“I really like this area. It has many amenities for a young family and is a good place to live. There is more to a job than money, you need a passion for it. You need to enjoy what you are doing, otherwise no amount of money will make it satisfying,” he said.
This led to a personal monologue about falling out of love with my job and an example of what Joe had just said.
Writing was a passion, but my plans were to teach science and math entering UW-Stevens Point in 1961.
I continued writing for the Advocate and built contacts in daily papers reporting local sports.
That changed in mid-1964 when The Post-Crescent had a job in its New London office. I listed Jim Harp, Terry Galvin and John Paustian, the Appleton sports department, as references in my resume.
The Post-Crescent was a community newspaper in those days. My job included stories and pictures on anything happening in New London, Hortonville and Shiocton, my assigned area that included Waupaca and northwest Outagamie counties.
Millie Laib exceeded my output in Clintonville as a correspondent paid by the inch. Late in her career she was given reporter status, a well earned recognition.
Quantity in those days was important because readers are most interested in local news determining “my newspaper” ownership.
It is still important to long-time readers who took ownership of their local newspaper.
Faucher noted that subscriptions had increased significantly when the names of papers identifying the community were restored and content repackaged to focus on that area.
A friend who has been a faithful reader of The Post-Crescent for more than 60 years has lost interest in the paper “because it does not cover local news the way it did.”
“It is not worth the cost,” she said.
It is the reason I retired a decade earlier than planned.
Today my columns are a mixture of fact and opinion. Many of the columns are intended to give information, raise questions and hopefully make readers aware of possible consequences.
The most enjoyable are about people and ordinary things we all share.