Protecting free speech is in the blood
When I was applying for college my father said I could major in anything but journalism. I was mad because it was what every advisor told me to do and I was going to a college with one of the best J-schools in the country.
But my dad said the newspaper industry was dying. My father retired early with a package from the St. Louis Post Dispatch that the union had negotiated for him and the other proofreaders. It was 1979 and word processing software was on its way into newspapers all over the world and it came with proofreading technology so professional proofreaders were no longer needed.
For my dad journalism equaled newspapers because that’s where the best reporters worked. He’d spent his entire professional life in the industry. My grandfather was a newspaper publisher who owned papers all over Kansas and Colorado. My grandmother wrote the society column and dad set the type. He tried a few other things in life, but he always came back to the paper whether it was the Kansas City Star where his oldest brother worked, the Detroit Free Press or the Post. He knew great reporters, drank with them and proofread their articles. He always said that “ink was in our veins.”
Ari Melber had a moving piece today on the importance of saving the free press in the age of Trump and internet platforms that care more about money than telling the truth. It’s taken me a long time to come back to my purpose and I still hesitate to call myself a writer. But one thing you can be certain of is that I always tell the truth in my raw and real content.
This Sunday is Father’s Day. It’s the first one without my dad. He claimed he always loved me. I just wish he had treated me as if he did. I won’t miss him, but I will remember the lessons he taught me, good and bad. On Sunday, I’ll be reading the paper just as I always do. Just as he used to do. Just as we all should do.