I was the guy whose dream was to appear before a college journalism class, take off his shoe, pummel a telephone into smithereens and walk away without saying a word.
Yet, in the twilight of my career, I find myself embracing technology. (Not a full-frontal boob hug, mind you, but a polite reserved embrace.)
A few weeks ago, I began exploring the vast universe of Twitter. Not as a social networking site, but for research and professional networking. As a cops and courts reporter, I can see the value of monitoring government officials and other miscreants on Twitter. Or connecting with other journalists to compare notes and “share information.” Formerly known as plagiarism.
Twitter is a treasure trove of information. But I’m afraid I’ll be like the guy who finds a rare coin in the street and, in the course of admiring it, gets run over by a bus.
To add insult to injury, the competition would probably scoop us and run a photo of my legs sticking out from under the bus wheels on page one.
That said, last week reinforced my commitment to “shoe leather journalism.”
With an impending winter storm, I made it a point to hunt down and shadow our county Emergency Management Agency director. This proved to be a perfect combination of old and the new reporting techniques. Being there, I got information straight from the horse’s mouth, and I was able to get it posted in our online edition in real time.
Better yet, my visit to the EMA office during a potential crisis situation served as a dry run. Our EMA guy, Mark Rafeld, showed me around and explained how things would work in a more dire situation.
On the day of the storm, I also made it a point to drive to the city garage and visit with Jerry Mack, who is in charge of snow removal and a million other things. I also stopped by the fire station to talk with the EMS guys, who were swamped with calls that day.
Nothing like a face-to-face to give you a better feel for what’s really going on out there. And an iPad Mini with WiFi to post it instantly.
I hate to admit it but it appears that journalists can have the best of both worlds. As long as they keep one foot firmly planted in the real world. Even if that means — if only mentally — taking off a shoe every now and then and beating the nearest telephone to bits.