Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Looking Back, Looking Ahead
Just out of the frame of this painting stands a snow fence. Hanging from it and propped on it are flowers, stuffed animals, mementos.
On a day close to graduation a few years ago, several teens from Port Jervis, N.Y., died there, in a car wreck.
This crash, and others that happened after and before, set the staff of the Times Herald-Record, the paper where I worked, on a mission to change teens' driving behavior. The project, Not One More, involved most of the staff, and was headed by the newsroom management team, composed of me, Mike Levine, Terry Egan and my immediate supervisor.
Looking for facts on this crash this morning when I posted this painting, I downloaded some pdfs of our work, and I must say I was a little stunned. I knew at the time that it was good. I knew that I was working with a group of people who were changing the way newspapers told stories, presented information, engaged with the community. I knew that we were doing important work.
I just didn't know how good it was. (To judge for yourself, click here. The work we did was before April 2007, in the pdf files in the center of the page. )
Now, that little management team is no more. Mike is dead. My job and Terry's job were eliminated in the first round of staffing cuts, in 2007.
Looking for the facts of the crash made me think this morning of journalism, and my career. Finding those pdfs set off in me a feeling somewhat like longing, or at least nostalgia.
Then, the phone rang. It was Gail Geraghty, one of my reporters in Maine. Now, she's working for the paper in Bridgton, and is writing a piece on me and my art for the paper there. Exciting!
She made a bunch of interesting points, discussing my painting, and I took particular heart in two - one, that in newspapers, I worked in a field that created community. Now, I'm doing the same thing - just in a different way.
The second point she made was this: It's liberating to be free of daily journalism!