Who says print media is on the way out?

In my opinion at least, newspapers continue to play a vital role in communication and, for that matter, lack of communication.

In my opinion at least, newspapers continue to play a vital role in communication and, for that matter, lack of communication.

As every couple who has been married for longer than a minute knows, there is nothing quite like putting up the newspaper in front of your face to buffer any unwelcome comments such as “about that VISA bill,” or “how could you forget one or all of the following: birthday, anniversary or Johnny’s soccer game?

Even a laptop doesn’t work quite as well as hiding behind a newspaper.

Despite rumors to the contrary, young men and women, wearing enthusiasm, vitality and optimism like shields to protect them from real life daggers that seem to pierce all of us at one time or another, still are choosing journalism as a career.

And they are ready and willing to do the work: cover meetings, take pictures and bring back stories.

In short, they want to report the news, and the questions of who, what, why, where and how are as relevant today as they were yesterday.

But, and I will be the first to admit this, the steps to doing all of the above has taken a drastic leap from the way it was then to the way it is now.

Years ago, when I was young and still cutting my teeth in the reporting business with a Pentax 1000 camera, and a darkroom and hunched over a light table learning to cut and paste, I befriended an old gentleman who had been a newspaper guy forever.

He fit the stereotype. He was grouchy. He was old. And, not so much for those reasons, but because he was a part of a world that held a fascination for me, a stay at home mom who had little experience in the media other than the ability to string sentences together, I liked him.

And so he would tell me about the days of hot lead and the printing press and then he would recite some Robert Service poetry just in case my interest waned.

And I would listen and absorb every word and think he was very cool, but old.

Today, that role was reversed.

I was sitting in the new reporter’s office, chatting the way reporters do after deadlines have been met and the newspaper, for better or worse, is on the street.

For some reason, I don’t know why, the conversation drifted around to ‘back in the day.’

And before I knew it I found myself telling him my story.

“I had an old camera, a Pentax 1000 when I started,” I reminisced. “There was no zoom, everything was manual. It worked for me,” I mused, almost forgetting he was there.

“And, the darkroom. Of course, we had to do everything, you know. We had to roll our own film, develop the negatives, make the prints. And then we had to get everything to fit on the pages on these huge light tables. It was all cut and paste in those days, you know.”

He nods politely and suddenly I am reminded of how old I really am.

“Things have changed, that is for sure,” I mutter as I go back to my own computer which should, but doesn’t, make reporting, easier.

But it is comforting to know that no matter how much the steps have changed, some things never have and never will. Deadlines. The importance of accuracy. And the words, “is the paper here yet?”

It’s the same today as it was yesterday.

And that is good!