By Gary Lloyd
The spine is tearing and the dog-eared pages are beginning to curl, but the words inside still hold together.
Well, at least they do for me. It’s a book from my freshman year of college, titled Journalism: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How, by James Stovall, and its importance was lectured to me from Reese Phifer Hall lecterns as if it were the most important book on the University of Alabama campus. Because of that, I kept this used book, and streaked pink and yellow highlights across what I deemed key passages.
These days, I wonder if many journalists have seen the cover, or taken the time to skim even 10 of its 489 pages.
I don’t watch national news on television, and I barely click on the related articles. What’s the point? Most, if not all, of the anchors traded in their thoughtful questions for opinion-spewing long ago, and the writers seem to be more interested in catchy headlines than getting the facts straight. They have their own agendas, both liberal and conservative, and it is an embarrassment to the craft. There is a clear bias in their coverage, and I won’t watch or read it. It is meant to infuriate, not inform.
Maybe I’ve just gone soft over the years. I’ve covered some horrific things. I’ve seen blood in the interior of a Suburban hit by a dump truck on the backroads of Mississippi, and been yelled at on the phone by the wife of a man charged with crimes against children.
These days, I like to tell local, often feel-good, stories. Contrary to what CNN or Fox News scream at you, or what the New York Times spins in black ink, there is still a place for them.
There is still a place for a high school football defensive coordinator to pour out his faith in newsprint, instead of repeatedly answering questions about slowing down shifty running backs. There is still a place for a 97-year-old Army veteran to detail his daily life, even if it is mostly about yard work. There is still a place for a 17-year-old Girl Scout to describe her distracted driving project, which earned her a Gold Award, and maybe even inspired someone to keep their iPhone face down in the cup holder on I-459.
There is still a place for high school football players to take a knee and pray before a game. There is still a place for teddy bears to be thrown onto the hockey rink’s ice at a Toys for Tots drive. There is still a place for the Christmas tree lighting.
There is still a place for a retiring librarian to tell the community where on the map she plans to visit. There is still a place for a woman from South Vietnam to take readers with her back to the mid-1970s, amid bombs and invasions, and tell them what she felt. There is still a place for a high school history teacher to honor his family of fellow teachers, and for that family to then frame the article and give it to him as a Christmas gift.
That’s news to me.
Gary Lloyd is the author of six books and is a contributing writer to the Cahaba Sun.