30 years of memories
One of the challenges ó and one of the perks ó of being in the news business is that you never know what a particular day will bring.
I like to say that Iíve covered everything from elementary school spelling bees to executions at the state prison over the course of 30 years as a journalist. Iíve covered government and elections. Iíve covered the police beat and the courts. Iíve covered sports at every level from junior high to college. I even covered the trucking industry for a couple of years, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
A few stories stand out over the years. The two executions that I covered certainly were the most solemn. Itís an odd thing from a reporterís perspective. You arrive at the prison several hours before the execution is scheduled and typically one or two media representatives are selected to actually witness the execution. I have no real desire to see that sort of thing, but I did feel that it would make for a better story, so both times, I put my name in the hat. (Thatís literally what happened: we folded pieces of paper with our names and a prison official picked them out of a hat). I wasnít selected either time, so that meant waiting with other reporters for several hours until the execution was either carried out or delayed. Youíre in a large room with coffee and doughnuts, just waiting. There were actually two executions scheduled the second time I covered one. One was carried out and the other was delayed.
Another lasting memory is interviewing a deputy sheriff in his patrol car at a homicide scene, while the victimís body lay covered with a sheet just a few feet away in the driveway.
I started my career as a sportswriter, with dreams of becoming a major league beat writer. I never made it that far, but Iíve covered major college football and even covered games in professional stadiums in St. Louis and Dallas. Iíve also covered high school baseball in such exotic locales as Lead Hill. Iíve interviewed everyone from junior high football coaches to U.S. senators.
Work has taken me literally coast to coast, from South Carolina to California. Itís also taken me to places like Eudora and Lorman, Miss. (Watch out for the speed trap near Alcorn Stateís football stadium!)
Iíve been threatened more times than I can count over the course of my career. When I was managing editor in Pine Bluff, the police literally searched my office for a bomb.
Iíve written stories that people loved and columns that people hated. Iím sure Iíve been called every name in the book at one point or another. Not 10 minutes ago, I got a nasty email about a story that was published in 2015.
Iíve been a one-man sports staff. Iíve been part of the largest newsroom staff in Arkansas. Iíve been a sports editor, a city hall reporter, a managing editor. Iíve seen and covered a lot of things, but every day brings something new.
Iím not sure what I would have become if not a journalist. I believe itís what I was destined to do. Thirty years in, it seems to have worked out.