The role of a newspaperman, Finley Peter Dunne once wrote, is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
Even in these days of 24-hour cable news, the Internet and blogs galore, I still consider myself an ink-stained newspaperman instead of a journalist. A journalist, Dunne also wrote, is “an unemployed newspaperman.”
I may write here and for other web sites daily but my roots belong to the weekly stories and photos produced for The Floyd Press.
It’s been that way since I worked for the same paper in high school and then went to Roanoke in 1965 for a reporting job at The Roanoke Times.
Newspaper reporting, I’ve always believed, is the greatest job in the world. Actually, to call it a job is a disservice. It’s a calling and a damn fun one at that.
I wanted to be a reporter at age 11 and a side interest in photography only increased my desire to report what I saw and also capture it on film.
The profession never paid that much. Reporters make a little more than teachers but not much but the rewards come with each new edition when you can look at the printed product and say: “That’s what I accomplished today.”
Sometimes you write things that upset people and sometimes people get mad, get in your face and threaten you. It goes with the territory.
I walked away from newspapers a couple of times in my life and tried something else but those jobs — while better paying — didn’t measure up and I always drifted back to my chosen profession.
Comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable: a good motto for life and a good epitaph for a tombstone.