There is a funny Doris Day movie in which she is pregnant and is being rushed to the hospital in a friend's car and they get stuck in traffic and eventually the frantic friends have to deliver the baby in the car. The main thing I remember about it is they are rushing around looking for the proper stuff to have and someone says to use a newspaper to wrap the baby in it. It has been a long time since I have been the movie, I can't even remember its name, and so my recollection may be a little flawed.
But I tell my friends that I easily could have been that baby because my whole life has been "wrapped up" in newspapers and I easily could have been delivered and put on one.
At the age of 11 or so I began selling newspapers on the street in weather as hot and miserable as we are having now. And then since I hung around the newspaper so much I eventually got a job in the mailroom inserting comics and circulars before and after schools and on Sunday nights. And then when a proofreading job came open my senior year in high school my boss talked to the editor and I got it. And then when I got ready to go to college I was asked if I wanted the general assignment reporting job as $47.50 a week (remember gas was 19 cents a gallon and movies were 25 to 50 cents).
And all through college, I took a full load and worked full-time. My grades suffered but since I was going to be a newspaper guy anyway, it made sense to get a college diploma and do at the same time what I was loving.
I say all this since I have just been made editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald, and among my duties I take a few minutes to reflect. I guess the reason I bring all of this up is so you can get to know me better and feel comfortable calling me if you need anything.
First, let me say how much I love newspapers, newspapering and newspaper people. We are an odd bunch, would certainly make a good sit-com. Like in any professional we have unique personalities and only some things in common, like a general dislike of paperwork and a desire to find out what is happening. I was blessed with a natural curiosity and a natural distrust of people in authority and this probably helps in being a reporter or editor. Over the years, I have honed how I view the job of news gathering. I have learned that you can be nice and friendly and easy to get along with, but unyielding in the search for information for the stories. I believe also that there is always some place in the paper for everything. It might be a picture or a little story or just a mention, but a community newspaper is only vibrant if it covers the community.
Help us out by shooting a picture and sending us a copy or seeing a wreck or other story and giving us a call in case we might not know about it.
So let me tell you how I approach my job and the two papers that cover the fast-growing counties of Clayton and Henry.
First, let me say I know there are a lot of political factions, people who get along well with each other and those who do not like each other. There are a number of controversial issues.
I and these papers have no friends to reward and no enemies to punish. In writing stories we want to accurately reflect both sides of a controversy. We want to accurately report a person's quote and to be fair to everyone. We recognize that when we start snooping for news or asking tough questions, some may not like this . But we have no agenda. We seek the truth and we see to report what is going on fairly.
If you read our editorials and the variety of stories we cover you will see that we celebrate diversity. While we want every age, every sex, every religion and political spectrum and every race and ethnic group to open the paper and see coverage of them, essentially our coverage is blind to those difference when we make coverage decisions. If it is a good story I don't care about anything else.
You are a part of making these better papers. If you suggest good ideas for stories, if you keep us apprised of what your church or civic group or school or business is doing it will help us. If you haven an opinion on a topic we welcome your letters to the editor.
If you don't like something we do let us know and all newspaper people answer their own phones so we don't have much bureaucracy to cut through to get to us.
Every day we have a monumental task to find out what is going on, to cover it and have photos of it and get it in in a timely way so we can get the paper printed and delivered in time. And in this fast-paced world, if along the way we make a mistake then we want to correct it. It is only through a lapse and not any intention that we make an error. Our goal is to strive for perfection but we recognize we will sometimes fall short of that. If we make a mistake it will not be a mistake of the heart, but of the head.
Newspapers work because it is a team effort. Everyone has a job to do and does it. And each department's job only works because you are a part of that effort.
Remember, it is not our paper. It is your paper.
Bob Paslay is editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .