Lots of changes since the typewriter days

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Almost 40 years ago, I snagged my first job in journalism as a night police reporter for the Tucson Daily Citizen.

I composed my stories on a Royal manual typewriter. We’d triple-space our copy, and paste one sheet to the bottom of another. A long story would exceed the six-foot height of our assistant city editor, Dave Mitchell, and turn his job into an athletic exercise.

The Citizen was a wonderful training ground for me. The staff was an extraordinary group of talented editors and reporters. I learned to report, write and hustle for stories to beat the opposition, the Arizona Daily Star.

So it was with great sadness when I learned that the Citizen folded on May 15, 2009 after 139 years of publication. It was the oldest continuously published newspaper in the state of Arizona.

The way newspapers have been dropping like flies in the past few years while others are struggling to keep their presses rolling, certainly has put the print media on the endangered list. What a shame.

Almost all of my work in the field of journalism had been with dailies until I took this job at the News-Bulletin about a year ago. This is my first experience with a community newspaper, and the experience has been most gratifying. I’ve come to believe that the future of print journalism is with community newspapers.

As I roamed the sports scene in Valencia County, I have learned how connected the community is with the newspaper. I’ve run into complete strangers who have struck up a conversation with me over something I had written. It is something that never happened during my other newspaper stops.

About a year ago, high New Mexico winds toppled my television antenna, rendering my television useless.

As an avid sports fan, I’ve always followed and rooted for my favorite professional and college teams. Television was a primary way of keeping tabs on the sports scene, and I must admit, I spent hours in front of the tube watching games — even of teams in which I had no rooting interest.

At about the same time as the demise of my antenna, I became a sports reporter with the News-Bulletin and quickly became absorbed in covering Valencia County high school sports.

During this year, I’ve found it far more rewarding to follow local athletes and observe their triumphs and failures. Sports fans are so focused on winning, yet I found myself appreciating the efforts that were made on the field by the young women and men I saw competing. Winning or losing became a secondary issue to me.

Meanwhile, my television antenna has remained in an irreparable heap. I have not missed what little television has to offer.

As a father of four children, I tend to look at youngsters and compare them with my own. The overwhelming majority of the Valencia County athletes I have come into contact with are great kids, and stack up well with what I would want to see in a son or daughter.

I will also give praise to the coaches I have encountered. They represent Valencia County well on the athletic field and have the ability to improve the skills of the athletes under their charge. I can say this without reservation.

I’ve visited this topic twice before, but I will make one more plea to parents and then shut up. I ask you to give your children over to the coaches, and allow the coaches to do their jobs, and allow your children to be guided. Then, sit back and enjoy the ride. I can guarantee you that your knowledge of a sport does not equal or exceed the knowledge of your child’s coach. Just observe, don’t interfere.

I’ve found that the demands of the job have taken a toll on this old war horse. I’ve decided to follow a work schedule of my own choosing, including an unending battle with the weeds in my chile field. Weeds never rest.

I ask that all of you coaches and athletes give the same attention and consideration to my successor, Tiffini Porter, as you gave me.

By being a reporter for a community newspaper, I have a heightened sense of what it is to be a member of the community.

This is a wonderful place to live. I intend to continue to write about it. And, if the opportunity arises, perhaps my work can once again grace the pages of this fine newspaper.

 


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