I still remember my first day working at The Birmingham News. I wore a peanut butter brown pants suit, heels (a little overdressed for a print journalist, I know) and was green as can be. When I walked into the building and got my badge that read REPORTER, I was on Cloud Nine.
All my life I wanted to be a writer and tell stories. They gave me that chance.
In the newsroom, one of the first things I spotted was a saying taped to an editor’s computer monitor that read, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”
Yikes, I thought, these people mean business.
During my tenure there, I got to work alongside some of the best editors and writers anywhere. They inspired me, pushed me and challenged me to have an unquenchable desire to be a great writer and seeker of the truth.
Within the community, the name “Birmingham News” carried a lot of weight. People allowed me in their homes, told me their funny stories, shared their tales of horror; they trusted me to be honest, thorough and give their story wings.
Fast forward to today: I am long gone from the News, but am still a big fan. Now, word is that in the fall they will print only three newspapers a week. Layoffs are inevitable.
That makes me sad.
Call me old fashioned, but there is nothing like sitting down with a crisp broadsheet and flipping through the Local, LifeStyle and Entertainment sections. You clip the stories you like so you can read them again and again. You remember your favorite bylines and think of the writer as a friend.
I know the value of getting news instantly online, but what of the morning ritual of waking up, getting out of bed and heading out the door to the porch with an expectation of great stories?
Those pages represent the immense work that goes into making a great newspaper. Every day, while the city sleeps, passersby the News building can see the lights on and in the windows silhouettes of bobbing heads. Inside, reporters, editors and designers are putting something together that will reveal a greater truth about who we are as a community and where we are headed.
They are the ones who, in search of a story, racked up an ungodly amount of parking tickets so they can stick around City Hall and get “that interview,” risked life and limb, ran from dogs, dodged bullets, drove into shady areas, chased storms and politicians just to get the truth.
For those reporters, who are now trying to figure out Plan B, you are in my thoughts and prayers. I cannot imagine how you must feel when you were born to be, and only want to be, a newspaper journalist.
So, on behalf of the community who will certainly miss the daily paper, thank you for all you have done. It won’t soon be forgotten.