I love movies about the news industry. The best ones provide the public true insight into the hard work, long hours and dedication to truth that define real journalists like the ones I’ve been privileged to call workmates in various newsrooms across America.
Editor’s Note: Hagit Limor’s term ended Sept. 27, 2011, during the Excellence in Journalism conference. This is her last column written as SPJ president. My father sits long hours in his living room chair these days, approaching his 81st birthday, pondering a patchwork of memories captured on the front pages of history.
The phone started ringing just after noon on a busy Tuesday in June. The axe was falling again. Friends at Gannett who had suffered through multiple rounds of cutbacks, furloughs and layoffs had just gotten word that 700 more of their friends were about to get the call no one supporting a family, trying to pay off a car or struggling with a student loan wants to hear.
I was sitting at a karaoke bar in Tokyo on my birthday, my first breath of relaxation after a tumultuous week covering the March 11 earthquake, when my BlackBerry buzzed with news that would shake me to the core. Dick Goehler was gone.
NOTE: This column is adapted from a blog post Hagit Limor wrote on March 17 for the SPJ “Freedom of the Prez” blog. I went to Japan on a journalists’ exchange and ran into that nation’s emotional equivalent of our 9/11.
I imagine the general public doesn’t get the inside joke of naming the newest potential assault on what journalists can publish the “SHIELD Act.” Those of us who’ve been fighting for a federal “shield law” get the message loud and clear.
The first call came 12 hours after I raised my hand and swore to uphold the traditions and values of the Society of Professional Journalists as president. Students at Marshall University complained that their school’s police department had two sets of blotters detailing crime on campus, one the police released to their student paper, the Parthenon, a second that reflected true crime reports as mandated by the federal Clery Act, which requires colleges to report campus crime in a log accessible to the public.
My parents say they knew I’d be a writer before I could write. I started composing poetry out loud; they would commit it to paper. By the time I hit my teen years, the poetry had morphed into songs I performed with a series of rock bands.