Today marks my 22nd year working as a reporter. Some people just never wise up, I guess.
I remember that first day on the job back at a gutsy little paper in Auburn, New York, where I showed up to see if I could work as a political reporter.
They shoved me at a county legislature meeting with 21 representatives, half of them crazy. That night one of them accused a colleague of being a crook. And that was the before things got wild.
When it was all over, I went back to the place where they'd put me up, knowing that I had to prove myself. I wrote and rewrote my story all night.
In the morning, I went to the office. The editors asked if anything had happened that I should write about. I gave them a little synopsis.
Write it, they said.
Having no idea that I'd already crafted the story over and over, they were awed that an hour later I had a decent piece of journalism to throw their way. They, of course, rewrote some of it anyway, because in those days we had a lot of editors who had a lot of time, at least compared to newspapers now.
I got the job, making a whopping $13,000 a year, not even enough to cover my school loans.
But I was happy. And here I am, 22 years later, a survivor so far of the news massacre that's tossed so many reporters out of this wonderful if undercompensated business.
I could have made more money, for sure, but even after all these years, I still find it amazing that I get paid to write, to tell stories that need telling, and to make a difference to so many lives over so many years.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org