Newspaper days

I WAS A newspaperman for about 30 years before I retired at age 55 in late 1999. I never called myself a journalist, and I’ve never taken even one journalism course.

I’ve also been a taxi driver, a loan shark and a repo man.

But it was newspapering that I was best at.

There’s a link in the right-side column that takes you to Newspaper Days, a description of my decades in that world. It was a profession I fell into, just one more path in a life that’s been almost entirely haphazard.

Take a look if you have some spare moments. It’s a quick tour through exotic places like San Juan and New Orleans, and even haircuts in the Virgin Islands.

You’ll also encounter mangy dogs, suicides, alcoholism, unionism, motorcycles, political correctness, feminist zealotry, homosexuality, paste pots and old typewriters.

21 thoughts on “Newspaper days”

  1. I so wanted to be a foreign correspondent when I was a teenager. Took journalism in school and the instructor one day just looked at me and said I would never make it in that field. The desire must not of been strong enough as I quit the course and found boys/men!!

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    1. Peggy: When I was getting started in that business, women were mostly relegated to “society news.” Although I’m pretty sure you’re a good bit younger than I am, that situation did not change for years. I imagine that is what the journalism teacher was referring to. It was a man’s world.

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  2. Most young people are misled by adults when asked: “What do you want to be?” Goals are fine. But, like you, almost every job I thoroughly enjoyed came about by mere circumstances. I didn’t search them out. And the jobs I sought almost always were disappointing. I am a big proponent of telling young people to pull down their mainsail and let the current take them to whatever adventure life offers. Of course, they need to find a good job; my Social Security needs topping up.

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    1. Señor Cotton: I do believe you searched out lawyering, amigo. Was a smart move too.

      I too am a big fan of young people working to stoke the fires of my Social Security. It’s the least they can do.

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  3. A musician friend of mine is also a sort of a computer geek and got into the newspaper business when the whole online news/website thing got started. He ended up as Director of Media at the local newspaper. Then Scripps-Howard bought out the paper and he figured he would lose his job to someone who could manage the web page from Cincinnati. He survived that period only to have the paper bought by Gannett. Once again he thought he was done, but they have made him head of a new thing in the newspaper business. “Drone Journalism.” They’re buying an expensive drone and training him to fly it around town to follow police chases, house fires, etc. So there’s your newspaper business of today.

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    1. Jeez, Paul, who woulda thunk it? Even when I got out 17 years ago, things were changing rapidly. I can only imagine what it’s like now.

      I’m better off down here twiddling my fingers. Don’t think being a drone pilot would interest me. Now if it were a Cessna …

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  4. My trip through journalism was different from yours — J-school, magazines and finally a stint on the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune. I wasn’t very happy when I left, and in retrospect I envy your meandering path, compared to my structured, tight-assed career. A couple of questions: Why do you use “Mohammedans”? What is it that makes you so angry?

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    1. Señor Lanier: Wowser! Editorial board of the Chicago Tribune. I am impressed. Structured, tight-assed career? You’re a funny fellow.

      As for why I use Mohammedans, and I may be the only person in the world still using it, I do it for two reasons:

      1. If a follower of Christ is a Christian, why isn’t a follower of Mohammed a Mohammedan? Makes perfect sense, and the word was common for ages before it fell out of favor due to political correctness.

      2. It annoys leftists, which is one of my favorite activities.

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    1. Ray: As you no doubt guessed, that was a bit of hyperbole. However, during my final year at LSU in New Orleans, in my early 20s, I had a job at a loan company on the outskirts of New Orleans. Strictly speaking, a loan shark is someone who gives loans at excessively high interest rates. Fact is, I don’t remember what interest rates we charged, but I imagine they were higher — perhaps considerably higher — than a similar loan from a bank. While I worked at the loan company, I did not personally hand out loans. Most of what I did was phone deadbeats and tell them the jig was up, or something like that, and they had better make a payment … or else. I don’t recall now 50 years later what the “else” might have been.

      It was for that same loan company that I was briefly a repo man. They only sent me out on one repo assignment. I was supposed to get the car from the yard of a deadbeat, but I came back to the office empty-handed. It’s been so long that I don’t recall exactly why.

      But, brief as it was, I did that, so I can call myself a former repo man. The loan shark claim is a little more iffy, but I use it anyway.

      Not surprisingly, I ended up getting fired from that job. Truth is, that was a happy day. I’m not constitutionally suited for that sort of stuff.

      Odd that you’re the only one who asked about that.

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    2. PS. You didn’t ask about being a taxi driver, but I did that for about two years — nights and weekends — while I was at LSU in New Orleans. I do have some tales from that job. It was far more fun than the loan gig, and it lasted considerably longer.

      Anyone who drives a taxi at night in New Orleans these days is out of his mind. Or suicidal.

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  5. I don’t know if you recall but I had been driving a taxi myself here in Tucson over the last couple years part time. Finally had to quit because I was afraid I was either going to kill someone or be killed. I’d like to say I’m exaggerating, but sadly I’m not.

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