Reflections on 10 years on deadline
Published 10:33 am Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Goodbyes aren’t easy.
I remember family get-togethers for all the typical occasions taking forever to end. Dad’s side of the family is where the party never ended in those days, and neither did the conversation an hour after I’d be told we were “fixin’ to go.”
It’s a full-size muffuletta sandwich worth of life and times crammed into the nearly 10 years I’ve worked at The Vicksburg Post. A tenth anniversary is the “tin/aluminum” milestone, according to most anniversary symbol lists out there. Memories aren’t recycled like a tin can so much as they are etched indelibly on the brain, so I beg to differ with Emily Post’s 1920s-era list on that one.
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Chasing leads on crime stories my first few months here morphed into covering the most life-changing natural disaster in our region in our lifetimes. Katrina, that wicked witch of the Gulf, had me staking out gas stations within a stone’s throw of Post Plaza looking for familiar-sounding car dealerships on the backs of loaded-down trucks. I wasn’t so much a reporter as I was a family member of sorts to all I helped. I’m fairly certain more than a year’s worth of papers were printed before a day went by without the K-word in there. Same goes for the word “flood” after the Mississippi River finally calmed down about this time four years ago.
In 2008, I was sent to catch up with some Ole Miss students from here who won tickets to witness firsthand the debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. While those students were the lucky ones, I was lucky, too. I didn’t have to walk around with layers of makeup on my face like the cable TV people. Glimpses of Rudy Giuliani and Bill Richardson were nice, but it doesn’t stick in my mind like the one human-to-human, pen-in-the-pocket conversation I had those two days. I sat on a bench near the Gertrude C. Ford Center alongside Billy Davis, then a reporter for The Panolian, and talked about those wily county boards of supervisors each of us covered. Imagine that scene — two fairly young guys and talked like we were old, grizzled vets of the biz. When you witness politicians make sausage, it makes the edible variety seem much more savory.
A sea change in the way humans communicate, share and advertise information was already underway when I was fortunate enough to land my first daily reporting gig. Our attention from pressing issues of the day and how it affects our lives is often diverted by technology itself. Through it all, I’ve kept something in mind a college professor of mine told me. If you’re always making people happy in this business, you’re probably not doing your job. Those with whom I’ve worked closest and learned the most from these past nine years and 10 months — far too many to name but you know who you are — respect that little truism. Always ask for the “why” in life, people, even if printed answers are tough to come by.
I can assure you I’ll remain a son of the South, as moving here only meant moving upriver a few hours from where I grew up. The areas along the Mississippi River from Memphis to New Orleans ought to get together, apply for statehood and name itself Riverlandia, as the cultures and paces of life are similar enough. I’m only leaving these pages — not the places where I can find a helpful voice, a friendly smile or a tasty eat as often as I wish.
Danny Barrett Jr. is a reporter and can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 601-636-4545.