COMMUNITY JOURNALISTS: PART TWO

the many roles we play to cover news for you

By Ralph Schaefer, 2017 Inductee 

I am a journalist who worked for small community newspapers. My role was being the reporter, photographer, and editor of the publications and everything, from start to finish—except run the press—and required many, many hours each week. 

The telephone, nearly 50 years ago, was the main line of communication. There was no fax, email, Internet, or other quick, interpersonal communication. 

I was the boots on the ground in the community, meeting people of all walks of life and gaining their trust to the best of my ability. 

I learned to write editorials while keeping personal opinions out of news stories. 

I wrote headlines, double-checked pages, and smiled at the complete paper or grimaced when mistakes made it through. 

Yes, there were errors to be corrected with retractions. One learned to deal with angry readers and keep personal feelings in check. 

I went to schools, photographed children and their projects, school plays, cheerleading squads of all ages, little league sports, high school activities, and athletic competitions. 

Weekend activities meant time away from family and personal projects. 

City hall, school board, and courthouse coverage was part of the beat, and some night meetings dragged on for hours. 

Yet, a reporter—the eyes and ears of the community—despite sleepy eyes, and tired ears and posterior suffered through because of the tendency of the officials to where everyone out, then approve a significant agenda item. 

I covered the cycle of human life, from birth to death and everything in between. 

I followed the role of announcing new births and publishing school lunch menus to marriages, divorces, and obituaries. 

I was at the scenes of automobile accidents and crimes where people were hurt or killed, and devastating fires. 

Business success and failure stories also were an important part of the community news. 

The legal system, lawyers and judges, are a key fabric of the community and their stories often were untold. 

I had the opportunity to know many fine men and women judges, see their human side, and learn about their jobs in the many difficult decisions they made. 

I celebrated a community’s success and felt its pain during tragedies. 

I was a journalist for nearly 49 years. 

For me, being part of the journalism community was a career of service. I am proud to have been part of it.