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Community Comment

Mon., Aug. 11, 2008, 3:01 p.m.

The Demise of News is a Conversation…

Good morning, Netizens...

This morning, perhaps out of habit, I reached for News is a Conversation which is no longer there, and in that moment, knew how important it has been to me and others.

As most of you already know, “News is a Conversation” or NIAC for short is no longer, after Editor Steve Smith recently announced the demise of that Blog. I can honestly say I have not always agreed with Steve's on a broad base of things, but I always knew he had an incredible insight on newspaper journalism that began with hot type linotypes and continues to reach past the new generation of newspapers on the web today. I also knew where things stood between he and I, for borrowing from an old cowboy saying, “I ride for the brand. What he says goes.”

On several occasions I have made Steve furious with me, mostly over making bad decisions about what I said in print. But I never lost sight of the Editor, whom I've never met, who could tell me not only how newspapers once were, but the direction(s) they must move today if they are to succeed in the future. For in his own words, written so eloquently yet simply, Steve Smith is a newspaperman. Having not worked for a newspaperman for quite a few years, still I recognize that brand of individual quite well. Well enough that I admit my shortcomings when it comes to rising to that standard. Moreover, I have had the distinct pleasure in life for working for two newspaperwomen, both of whom had that invisible trace of printer's ink running through their veins.

I am just a creative writer, sometimes on the mark, and sometimes falling so shy of my own standards of excellence I find myself wondering, “Now, what the heck ever possessed me to write that? Unfortunately, that slack piece of journalism has already been read by everyone. Time was when I worked in a newsroom, such sloppy pieces were placed on a spindle, rejected as unfit for human consumption by someone who knew better. I am not a newspaperman.

Being a full-time journalist is a lot more difficult, more challenging, than anyone writing in a Blog ever recognizes. I submit my being a part-time journalist is even more trying, made more difficult because I never establish a pattern of writing consistent with the standards of a newspaperman. I have a “real day job” that pays the bills, and then, like so many others who Blog each day, I write for the sheer pleasure, for the creativity I possess, for the desire to reach upward for excellence of writing, that driving aspiration to create an image in other minds. I must aspire to that standard, however, because it continues calling me, just as it has done for years.

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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.