Friday, September 04, 2009

Fond Memories of North Little Rock

Strolling through the lobby space of the now Wyndham in North Little Rock, I remember what's now a quarter century ago when this was the Hilton. A young senior journalism student and his fiancee made their way to the regional Sigma Delta Chi/Society of Professional Journalists convention. Picking up a pair of first place awards -- one for photography, one for sports column writing -- and thinking the gig as the sports editor of the twice-a-week Ouachita Citizen could last forever.

I don't remember the column, but I still have the picture. It was of a white student manager at one of our hometown high schools, reaching out his hand to console an inconsolable black football player sitting on the bench. Monroe had been desegregated not quite a half a generation in the high schools when that picture was taken, and it had special emotional meaning. Here was a young kid, maybe 10 years old, who clearly idolized the player and hurt for him in the way we do when our heroes have come up short; a scene that could not have taken place a decade earlier.

That picture is journalism at its best, and a reason why I still take time to write this blog on the changes in the field. It's also why I've gone to bat to help create a program that might inspire and instruct the next senior, who can head to the SPJ (no longer any SDX) to take that award home, maybe in new media rather than newspaper.

We'll see how that works out. Change is difficult.

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