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A Passion for the Job

January 7, 2009 - Michael Palmer
We were discussing this morning work ethic. My wife is an assistant manager at Wal Mart and has missed just seven days off sick in fifteen years, that was due to walking pneumonia.

I myself have been here at the Times Leader for one year and thankfully I have not had any sick days.

Maybe we are a tougher breed, or maybe we are just too stupid to stay home. Recently, Kay Sedgmer was off sick and I was worried, she is of the tough bunch, the rather go to work sick than just lay in bed kind of Gal Friday.

I saw her in Cadiz today going to yet another commissioner's meeting, a boring task for some news reporters, but not for this one. She has a passion for her job, she goes to each meeting, not as a mundane weekly assignment, but as a watchdog for the residents of the county.

That's right, she feels that her presence at even a dull and boring routine meeting that lasts five minutes before the entire proceedings goes into a two hour executive session, is a necessity for the system of checks and balances to work properly.

If you have been in or around the news business, then you know most reporters would rather visit their dentist for some root canal work than cover the weekly parade of municipal bureaucrats doing their impression of Ben Stein.

A house fire or high profile crime, the reporters a clamoring for top billing on page one for such articles, but the page A-nothing ho-hum droll is tedious work for these type of employees.

I have known Kay in her previous post at the Harrison County weekly paper, and she would put in 80-100 hours per week making that paper work. For that, she got little appreciation, but her reward was representing her home county and reporting on the events that effected the people that lived there.

Newspaper work is not high paying, so to some extent, anyone who takes a job reporting the news for a local printed medium has to share in that passion for the area and it's residents. Some, never lose that passion, but some do.

I hear people complain that there isn't anything in the paper. If you think about that statement, these people are also just focusing on the sensational. They do not realize that the local newspaper keeps watch over the local government and business leaders. In addition a local paper gives the area an identity.

If you doubt me, I can sight an example, a newspaper I previously worked for shut down, while the larger printer that took over the area promised to keep the same coverage, that promised reporting never materialized. As a result the local coverage for sports, politics and community events declined and in the end the result was that the community itself suffered.

Television can not take the place of printed media, it's tough to make a scrap book of video clips, even if you play for Steubenville Big Red football.

That said, I hope the local readers will realize that the BORING daily local coverage is both important and necessary, At the same time, I hope the local reporters realize the same and reignite their passion for their job.


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