A passion for what we do

Published 7:14 pm Tuesday, July 3, 2018

As I put another newspaper “to bed” … that’s a term we in the print Newsmedia world use to describe finishing another edition of the newspaper … I couldn’t help but think last Thursday about my colleagues in Annapolis, Maryland, who were also working on their next publication.

I don’t know how they’re doing, but I do know why they’re doing it … it’s what we do. We report the news in our community … good and bad. It just so happened the bad news hit home for them at The Capital Gazette when a gunman opened fire in the newsroom and killed five of their coworkers. I won’t pretend to share in their heartache, sorrow and grief … I can’t. None of us can. But I do know a thing or two about tragedy and reporting on it.

I celebrated a milestone last week. It was 29 years ago Thursday that I began my journalism career as the Sports Editor at the Picayune Item newspaper in Picayune, Mississippi, after spending a year at The Valley Times News in Lanett, Alabama.

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During those nearly 30 years there have been numerous times I’ve questioned why it is that I do what I do for a living. Why I put up with the endless days, countless missed events with family and friends and struggled pay check to pay check.

But then I think back on those almost 30 years and remember the milestone moments for me … the first time I saw my picture in my first sports column (I still have it by the way); my first big-time interview of a professional athlete (Ok … so he was the Manager of the Atlanta Braves Bobby Cox, not really a big time athlete, but a heckuva nice guy and manager); the first time sitting in the pressbox in the Superdome waiting for kickoff of a Saints game and being in the same room as my boyhood sports idol — Archie Manning; working on that Monday morning and watching the Twin Towers go down on live TV from my desk and my colleagues huddled around the only TV in the newsroom.

But the biggest event has to be the days and weeks that followed the natural disaster that struck Picayune in August 2005. Working off a generator, a skeleton staff made sure The Item published newspapers after Hurricane Katrina. We didn’t win any Pulitzers, but I will say that the work was Pulitzer-worthy. For days afterwards, we gave away the newspaper to our community because that’s what you do. Folks were without electricity … for days … and the only source of news came from their community newspaper. It remains the greatest accomplishment of my journalism career and I was lucky enough to do it with some of the greatest people I know … they were committed to their “job” because it was … and still is … more than a “job.” You have to have a passion for a career, making barely enough money for yourself, let alone raise a family. 

I weep for the folks at The Capital Gazette and tonight, when I head home after another 10-12 hour day, I’ll put in the greatest newspaper movie ever made (The Paper, circa 1994), pop a coke and toast my colleagues.

Rob Sigler is editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at rob.sigler@vicksburgpost.com. Readers are invited to submit their opinions for publication.