I miss the days of eager faces.
That’s a reality I come to face almost daily, at minimum three times a week as I visit community campuses to speak to or take photographs of students in our community. Being the “newspaper lady” has most definitely lost its luster on our current generation. Gone are the days of students inquiring “when will this be in the paper?” Now replaced by some asking to see the photos on our cameras to see if they approved. Side note: I never oblige this request. Reasons quite simple: that’s a bit too vain for yours truly and more importantly photos used are at the discretion of the editor.
The good news of course is that there are still readers who enjoy seeing children they know or have known in the past make the pages of our papers. Some do still scrapbook and others even take it next level by framing an article or two.
Not too long ago a friend sent me an article on the dying art of the newspaper business, yes “the dying art” ... imagine that. An insightful piece, obviously penned by a fellow writer, recognizing that while hard news will continue to sustain life via the world wide web, the art of capturing and sharing human interest stories by way of print media will come to see its day. As a creative field it is one like any other right brained craft, which truly won’t be missed until it is no longer available.
In fairness to the current generation and the students, I get it. They now live in a world of everything instant. Their noteworthy moments can make the world wide web via social media in seconds of their achievement. Who needs to wait for a Wednesday newspaper when there is Facebook, Instagram and Snap chat?
Nonetheless, we (as a whole) continue to not only take pride in what we do and how we do it, but the goodness of the youth in our communities and sharing such goodness with our readers. It’s quite honestly the favorite part of my job, which is probably why this reality (many years later) is still hard for my brain to wrap around.
And then something magical happened. Last week I took a nice drive up the hill to see the students in Knights Ferry Elementary School and attend their student built arcade. (See story in this week’s issue). Approaching the office to sign in, I was greeted by a poster taped to the office door. A poster bearing an announcement of my visit to the school. The words on the colorful artwork: Teresa Hammond is coming. Come Play!!, with a drawing of a camera surrounding the front.
I honestly entered the office beaming; I was quite simply humbled and stunned. In 18 years of reporting, I had never seen my name on a poster announcing my arrival. This was crazy and amazing. I quickly snapped a photo and proceeded onto my assignment.
Upon leaving, I asked if I could have the poster, this was a special moment for yours truly and I wanted to savor it as long as possible. Quite simply this simple act recharged my battery.
For the reader who faces an unappreciated job on a daily basis, I’m sure your head is shaking at my words. I get that I am doing what I’m paid to do and more often times than not, that’s exactly what I share when thanked for an article, photo or feature story.
This poster by Hadley Gardner, however, really brought me back to the basics of why I love this job so much. It also restored my faith, that while I may not be greeted in such a way all the time, there are young people still happy to see the “newspaper lady.”
The lesson in this is really quite simple and two fold, in case you missed it. Stay true to who you are and what you feel called to do, even if the moments come which make you feel beaten down or unappreciated. Even more importantly, always take the time to make someone not only feel special, but truly appreciated. Little things like Hadley’s poster not only made my day, but truly altered my state of mind.
Thank you Knights Ferry School. I always love taking a ride up the hill to see you all and now … you’re a permanent piece of my office space. Go Bobcats!
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.