Wednesday, March 11, 2009

So, What's It Like ? ...

It would happen a lot ... not as much, nowadays ... but a lot more 'way back when' ... whenever someone found out that I made my living in the media, and they ask, "So, what's it like, I mean, what's it REALLY like, you know?"

Looking back on it, long after I chucked it and went to work for the PIO office at Midland College, it was pretty interesting, really. And, sometimes, it was awfully tiring. And it can have moments of great exhilaration, and moments of great sadness. You learned - and, sometimes, re-learned - a lot of different things. It's life, really. ... and I suspect that hasn't changed much over the past year or so.

There are times when you would find yourself struggling to maintain a reasonable flow of oxygen to your brain ... listening to county commissioners debate, over the better part of an hour, the relative merits of competing bids to supply sand and gravel.

Then there are times when you're wide awake and cranking, when the story seems to write itself, when the pages fly off your typewriter (then) or word processor (now) with a speed and sense-of-ease that makes you think you're no longer in control ... that your mind and your fingers are possessed.

There's a lot to the business that has no direct impact on writing words, taking pictures or laying-out pages (in print or online), but are important to your business nonetheless.

There are some books out there that capture the business very well, and I'd like to recommend one. It's a collection of short stories called, "
Quaint We Ain't: A Country Editor Confesses the Hilarious Truth About Life in Small Towns."

Author J. Tom Graham has drawn from his real-life experiences as a Texas country newspaper man to write the book. Comparing it to my own experiences editing a small-town weekly in West Texas, I have to say, "he's nailed it." And, it is a very funny book, thanks in part to Graham's skills at writing and storytelling, and in even greater part to the people he meets, and the experiences they share.

The emphasis of Graham's book is definitely upon small towns. Anyone with media experience large AND small will tell you they can be two entirely different critters. At least one of his essays has fun with the notion of television reporters from the city blowing into town to cover a story that has caught their attention ... I've been there, done that, from BOTH perspectives.

One thing I hope the book does for you, is give you some insight into the profession and - I hope! - some respect for those who take up that profession, and do their best at it. Pick up a copy, some time. It will answer, far better than I could, the question, "So, what's it like?"


Anonymous said...

Jeff, there are currently no reviews of it at the Amazon site you linked.

This post is a pretty good book review. You should copy it and paste it there.

Jeff said...

George, I hadn't thought of that ..... heck, why not?