34 years of change. And counting.
I can’t think of anything I’ve done consistently for 34 years, besides breathing and working at the Iowa Park Leader.
This week is my work anniversary, and as a gift they gave me two weeks in New York City with tickets to Saturday Night Live and the hit Broadway show, Hamilton.
How lucky am I?!?!?
I’m lying like a dog, but I did make the publisher audibly gasp, so happy anniversary to me.
Still, I want to talk about all the changes I’ve seen in the past three and a half decades, but then I’d have to tell you how I walked a mile to work and back in the snow, uphill both ways. Figuratively, I kind of did, and we kind of still are. If history is any indication, maybe we always will be.
The methods have changed, but the intent has not. It never will.
Like all newspaper children (that’s a thing, you know), I worked at the paper from a very young age, probably a toddler. Family help was necessary since my mother put out a newspaper at home while my dad worked at another, then they started the newspaper here in Iowa Park.
Over the years I stuffed inserts, cleaned, proofread and counted words - all this before I ever got a paycheck for it. It was part of being a part of a newspaper family.
Ditto for newspaper conventions and their people - they were our family vacations and our family. Many of the newspaper children I grew up with at those conventions are still in the newspaper business. I have immense respect for these people, and gratitude for their grit. Collectively, they motivate me when things seem bleak in our industry.
Over the years, I’ve seen the changes in our office from working on huge Compugraphics to being one of the very first weekly newspapers in Texas to go to that amazing four-inch MacIntosh screen. It was seriously like magic in the forest, but then again I was young and had good vision.
Then, over the years we got larger and larger computer screens - I believe mine is like 150 inches now. We eventually transitioned to desktop publishing, and sending our files electronically.
Later came a website, Twitter and Facebook accounts and electronic subscriptions.
Update: I just measured my computer screen and I was a little off. It is actually 27 inches. Whatever.
Every one of these changes was painful. And I mean p-a-i-n-f-u-l.
Just changing our composition software a couple years ago catapulted me into a drawing for a lifetime supply of nerve pills.
Change is painful and it’s also guaranteed, but we are rarely ready for it.
In the next year, though, I see a lot of changes here at the Leader. The way we cover the community; what we offer to the town that has been this newspaper’s home for almost 50 years; and finding out the way you need to get the news to and from us. We will always have a print product - it’s an integral part of what we do - but we want to work to meet the community where it is. Like I said, hard, and there is a learning curve but we are getting ready for these changes.
I don’t have another 34 years in me, but I do have enough to see one more major change in our industry then I’m going to trust that the next generation of journalists and community newspapers will take the changes during their 34 years with more grace than I currently am.
Thank you for sticking with us as we tiptoe across the edges of our collective comfort zones. And also for being with us the past almost 50 years as we have covered Iowa Park and her history.
We’re working on a survey for our readers and non-readers to get more information that will be emailed and posted on social media. If you want to participate let me know.
My new email is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you read last week’s column, you’ve probably guessed by now I lost the fight with AT&T. That’s not the first time since I’ve been here, either.
Hmmm. Ch-ch-ch-changes. They happen all the time.