TRUSSVILLE — Gary Lloyd has launched a new podcast, called the Books, Babble & Ball Podcast. The podcast will feature topics such as writing, journalism, history, news, interviews, sports and … Continue reading New podcast launched
Rick Bragg called it “pretty writing.” The Pulitzer Prize winner and University of Alabama writing professor, the one who made his name in the writing world at the foot of … Continue reading Pretty Words, Pretty Birds
THIS STORY APPEARS IN GARY LLOYD’S BOOK, VALLEY ROAD: UPLIFTING STORIES FROM DOWN SOUTH. GET IT HERE. It sounds improbable, but I believe I am up to the task. I can sum … Continue reading Six stories
This story appears in Gary Lloyd’s book, Valley Road: Uplifting Stories from Down South. Get it here. I won’t sugarcoat it — writer’s block stinks. It causes me several reactions. There’s … Continue reading The ‘write’ one
I have spent a lot of time at Clay-Chalkville High School.
I spent one morning reminiscing with a theater teacher about his nearly twenty years at the school. I spent a frigid morning when school was canceled due to icy roads snapping photos and a video of a vandalized front lawn. I spent National Signing Days in the auditorium, trying to keep up with all the student-athletes who were moving on to the next level of their respective sports.
I spent afternoons writing in my truck just outside the school, my white laptop resting against the steering wheel. I wrote about criminals who forced the school into lockdown, about a career technical center to be constructed in the back parking lot, about artificial turf for the football field. Every time, I wondered why this school was turquoise and tan, a beachy-colored building near the mountains.
I spent evenings after football practice shooting the breeze with the coaches in the athletic facility, watching the sun set over the green field. I spent fall Friday evenings in my truck in the parking lot before I entered Cougar Stadium to see another victory, eating a snack from Dairy Queen while listening to Paul Finebuam preview the weekend’s games.
I wrote a lot of positive things about this school, its city. I wrote a lot of things people did not like.
Today, I got to talk about it all with a dozen students in the broadcast journalism class there, students who have likely never read my stories, students who were born after the Major League Baseball home run record chase of 1998, students who do not know a world without unlimited text messages.
Today, I did not spend time at Clay-Chalkville High School. I invested it. There is a difference.
I talked about my background and experiences as a journalist, about the six basic questions every journalist aims to answer. I ran off a list of eight news values that are important at any journalistic entity, print or broadcast. I discussed the development of story ideas and how important relationships are in creating a successful future. I talked about “Show me, don’t tell me,” writing books and setting yourself apart by going the extra mile. I talked about the prisoner in Mississippi who identified me through a jail cell my first week in town, and the path to trust with the people I covered.
The students in class were attentive the entire hour I spent in their mint-green room, stumbling my way through my notes. They asked me when I knew I would choose journalism as my career path, about my favorite school subjects, about my process for recording interviews. They also asked me to come with them to explore Old Bryce Hospital in Tuscaloosa, to which I frighteningly replied, “No, thanks.”
When my spiel was over, and the students’ questions were exhausted, I thanked them for having me. One student said that I was cool, and informational. They said that I should come back in the future.
On Thursday, Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh was at Clay-Chalkville High School, making his final recruiting pitch to one of the top wide receiver prospects around. I was the school’s visitor the next day, an impossible act to follow. I have always thought of Harbaugh as a rather zany person. Some of the things he says and does are just bizarre, like that rap video he appeared in last year.
But the catchphrase from that video stood out to me after speaking to this class. I could see their curiosity, their eagerness to go record something, anything. I have often wondered lately about the future of journalism, what with “fake news” and copy editors being let go left and right. I have thought, at times, that all hope is now lost. This class’ ambition was apparent, and it was refreshing, energizing. It reminded me about the thrill of a new story idea, of my name in black ink just below a headline.
Then Harbaugh’s famous catchphrase hit me: “Who’s got it better than us?”
The last two days have flown by, and they have been awesome.
I spent much of Tuesday and Wednesday in Tuscaloosa, Ala., speaking to a couple reporting classes at the College of Communication & Information Sciences, as well as at the Tuscaloosa Public Library to the Tuscaloosa Christian Writers Group.
I appreciate Dr. George Daniels, the assistant dean of the college, inviting me to Tuscaloosa for the opportunity.
On Tuesday, I spoke with the JN-315 Advanced Reporting class, taught by Scott Parrott. The students were attentive and asked great questions about researching, reporting and book writing.
Later Tuesday night, I spoke to the Tuscaloosa Christian Writers Group about the three books I’ve written, and the books to hopefully come in the future.
On Wednesday, I spoke with the JN-311 Reporting class, taught by Kenon Brown. These students, much like the ones in the JN-315 class, paid close attention and took notes while I spoke about reporting strategies and writing books.
I also toured the state-of-the-art Digital Media Center, located inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. It is an amazing place, where students gain significant real-world experience. It is very impressive.
My two-day trip wrapped up Wednesday with a studio interview with Dr. Daniels at the Faculty Resource Center inside Gordon Palmer Hall. Dr. Daniels interviewed me about my life as a journalist, editor and author. The interview will soon be available on the college’s website and on iTunes by searching “Journalism On The Go.”
What a fun two-day trip it was. I can’t wait for the next one.
I’ll end this blog post the same way I ended the studio interview: Roll Tide.
An incredible opportunity has presented itself, and I couldn’t be more excited.
On July 26-27, I will be in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for two reasons:
- I’ll be speaking to the Tuscaloosa Christian Writers Group at the Tuscaloosa Public Library on Tuesday, July 26 at 6:30 p.m.
- I’ll also be speaking about news reporting and book writing to the Reporting and Advanced Reporting classes at the University of Alabama’s College of Communication and Information Sciences both days.
I have Dr. George Daniels, the assistant dean of the college, to thank for the invitation and opportunity.
I will also be recording a studio interview about my books and work as a journalist for future use in journalism classes at UA.
How cool is that?