Thursday, September 2, 2010

New Stories with Old Foundations: A Tribute to Professionals

At the start of a new academic year, journalism students across campuses—my own included—begin the hunt for stories. They dig into their communities and jump across ideas, hungry to report the latest trend or discovery or event. It's good work and good preparation for their lives, and careers, ahead.

But the new stories need old foundations. Truth as the primary pursuit for reporters has grounded the profession (for the most part) for nearly three centuries in this country. And such truth-finding and truth-telling is for one purpose only: citizens. Informing families and neighbors, business owners and teachers of the truths they need to know to govern their lives. The words, the stories, the sources, matter. The job itself is crucial.

Unfortunately, in our viral world, news organizations can have short memories when it comes to the industry's foundations. That's why we need professionals who will remind the next generation how the cornerstone of truth  builds both a story and a culture. Like Salem News reporter Steve Landwehr did a year ago in my class. He looked right at those young reporters and said, "Journalism is the best job in the world. You get to make a difference every day. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!"

How'd he know that? Because he made a difference each day: with stories that uncovered government corruption or inspiring local heroes. We've lost Steve's byline; he died unexpectedly last month. But his commitment, like the foundations for journalism, never will. They ensure our truth telling for the future.

1 comment:

  1. Steve!! I am so sad to hear about that. I had no idea he was a talented cook or played guitar. As a fellow environmentalist, I probably would have gotten along with him even better than I realized. He will be missed.