Had the interesting experience last Saturday. Circumstances were such I needed to go through every issue of 2016.
There’s, we’ll call it, “things,” which take place around newspaper production, and in doing those things sometimes you have to go through the stacks of newspapers and figure out what went where, when and why, and then enter the findings on a thing somebody in some other office pays with their attention.
So yeah, last Saturday was that time. I had to put together the list for that person in that other office.
It was nice, it was quiet here, even the scanner, the back beat of the newsroom, wasn’t that chatty. Just a quiet space and the history of 2016 as printed laid out on the floor for inspection.
It’s often been said that journalism is history written on the fly, and you have a chance to get a sense of that when you see 2016 laid out. Water rates, animal shelter, just to name two recent, late 2016, issues, Farm Family of the Year (going further back in time now), the election (like we’ll forget that any time soon, nationally or locally), and on, airplanes skidding to a stop, big Halloween events, just, life, life going on, week by week, cataloged here. Some of the things were big, some less so, but some, all, were people interacting with either other people or the world around them, usually in some combination.
And it seems like with all that going before me I’d have something deep and rich to say here about the people and the community (I mean, it’s not like I haven’t before, or won’t again) but I’d rather skip that step here and just let you in your own mind consider how that reflects on all of us. I mean sure, the newspaper has my name all over the silly thing, so it reflects on me not only largely but weekly, but the community, the county, the thing reported upon, that reflects on itself, and this history written on the fly has the sort of meaning which is much larger than some guy sorting papers in a back room.
Well wait, that last bit was a confused mess, and little too (something), let’s try this from a different angle.
Saturday, before I hit the office on my sorting mission I had a couple errands to run, stories to cover. The first was the opening of a grocery store in Damascus, a ribbon cutting. Did it. Got the shots, got the quotes, said “Hi,” shook some hands, then it was time to move on to the second stop.
Got to Clinton, and the baseball tournament was underway, teams playing in both the park and the school. I took a mess of pictures, lots of kids and parents interacting with baseball and enjoying the weather. It was, end of the day, history, being written on the fly. In fact I got done there, hit the office, sorted newspaper (wept softly because organization is not a strong point) got done (somehow) and got back to the ball fields for a few more pictures before I hit the road.
That, the pictures and reporting, was more important than the accounting of last year’s news. That news had already happened, had already taken place, was something for somebody else to make sense of once it was accounted. The real job was to get on the news as it went down.
A pastor I know, Rick Bezet of New Life Church, likes to make the point that a car has a large windshield and a small mirror for a reason: That it’s more important to see where you’re going than to worry about where you’ve been. I suppose that’s the point here: That it’s more important to keep moving forward, to keep one’s eye on the horizon, than to roll around in the back room, reading your own clippings.
I should write that down.