March 9, 2009

22 years as a reporter...

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


Anonymous said...

Let me guess about your first story: they were Republicans except the one who was unjustly called a crook, who was a Democrat. The mean old Republicans were nasty and smirking and tortured the sweet little Democrat who cried softly for his mother.

Steve Collins said...

Actually, it was a Democrat calling a Republican a crook, unfairly.

Good For YOU! said...

Congratulations on reaching this milestone, Mr. Collins! May you enjoy another 22 years, but at a much higher salary! :o)

Just curious, have you and the other employees at the newly acquired Bristol Press considered forming a Union? Statistics show that members of a Union enjoy better working conditions as well as improved wages and benefits. Think about it. ;o)

There can never be too many Unionized employees!

Anonymous said...

I knew it!

Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

>>...That night one of them accused a colleague of being a crook. And that was the before things got wild.

At least they kept you awake, apparently well entertained and all without even a cover charge!

cseguin said...

I hate to correct you, but you've forgotten one thing. You have also taught countless high schoolers how to write, research, and report on stories. Because of your (and Jackie's) efforts, countless young people have gone off to success in journalism, public relations, medical school, law school, and a whole variety of other professions.

You're one heck of a reporter, that much is obvious. But, you've also made a real difference in the lives of young people around the world with your work on "The Tattoo" and Youth Journalism International. That, I would argue, has been your greatest contribution as a professional journalist.

As one of those young journalists who was lucky enough to learn from you, thank you. Here's to another 22 years.