Dec. 20, 2022
Another year is nearly behind us and I am reminded of something my mentor, Jim Hayes, shared with me during the last months of his life.
“Life,” he said, “is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.”
Apparently he borrowed that from Andy Rooney, but that’s OK. Hayes was an original and I still remember the twinkle in his eyes when he shared those words of wisdom — so what if he left off the attribution!
Also, years ago, he advised me to go into newspaper management and I decided that meant my writing would never pass muster and I’m sure that’s true.
Like me, he had many different jobs in his life but he told me he always returned to reporting because “it’s the only thing I was ever good at.”
His former students at Cal Poly and elsewhere would agree that he was also an excellent teacher.
When I was his student, I was painfully shy. So shy that it was painful for me to write my stories in the newsroom. Instead, I wrote them out long-hand at a table in a little room off the ladies room on the second floor of the Graphic Arts building at Cal Poly. I should mention that this restroom was right across the hallway from the famous men’s room where Weird Al famously recorded “My Bologna” in 1979.
After writing my stories, I would make my way down the hallway to GA226 and type them out on an old manual typewriter. That is, until one day when Hayes walked up and slapped my hands hard with a ruler, chastising me.
“You. Must. Learn. To. Compose. At. The. Keyboard,” he said, loud enough for everyone in the room to hear.
And so, I did. And still do, more than 50 years later. (I’ve returned to reporting because it’s the only thing I ever loved doing).
“There’s always a story. It’s all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story. Everything’s got a story in it. Change the story, change the world.”
― Terry Pratchett, “A Hat Full of Sky”
Society of Professional Journalists
I am proud to be a freelance member of the California News Publishers Association (formerly known as the California Newspaper Publishers Association). From my days as a student looking for a job, to my time as a reporter and later as an editor and publisher, CNPA has been a great resource.
First Amendment Coalition
The First Amendment Coalition is an award-winning, nonprofit public interest organization dedicated to advancing free speech, more open and accountable government, and public participation in civic affairs. I help support this organization because it works to advance one of the most important elements of our democracy, the people’s right to know. I encourage you to check out this resource.
Think globally, act locally
Good advice if you want to make a difference: “think globally, act locally.” One of the first things I did when I moved back to my hometown was to become an investor in the Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council. In my little corner of the world, I think this organization makes a difference. Attending the monthly meeting also helps me keep up on what’s going on in the community and gives me great ideas for articles.