The black and white photograph from 1965 shows a 4-year-old me standing in our front yard, hand on hip, smiling and holding up a rolled-up newspaper.
Judging from the shadows, the image was captured in late afternoon. That makes it likely that I’m clutching a freshly delivered copy of The Kansas City Star, which back then got dropped in my family’s suburban driveway every evening and on Sunday. The Kansas City Times came in the morning.
Two decades later, I went to work for The Star, the beginning of a journalism career that over the next 30-plus years would take me from my hometown, across America and around the world. It’s been an unforgettable ride that’s allowed me to meet people from all walks of life and have experiences that little boy never could have imagined.
Along the way, I’ve covered everything from school boards, city councils, courthouses and state capitols to hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and floods. I’ve been on the field to cover the craziness of a St. Louis Cardinals World Series and courtside to capture Oklahoma City’s first NBA finals. (Sorry to bring that one up Sonics fans.) I’ve investigated pedophiles in the classroom, neo-Nazis in the military and a city government corrupted by the strip bar industry.
I’ve reported from overseas, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Bosnia, Israel and Haiti.
I could go on and on.
I like to think all that experience helped prepare for the post I’ve held since July, 2019 as executive editor of The Daily Herald. In that role, I’m responsible for helping guide the newsroom, including news, sports, features, photography and design, as well as HeraldNet.com, our digital site.
I’m proud to work every day with the men and women who help inform, enlighten and entertain our readers and provide information I believe is essential to a thriving community.
That’s been especially true since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, arguably the most important news event of my lifetime. I’ve been inspired by the dedication of our staff in covering this difficult and fast-moving story under trying conditions.
For as long as I’ve been in the business, the once-dominant newspaper industry has been under economic siege. Over the years I’ve watched cutback after cutback cause many of my colleagues and dear friends to lose their jobs and leave the business. That’s been true at The Herald as well.
Despite all that, I believe fiercely in what we do. I believe we are essential to a healthy democracy.
That’s why we’re working hard to find new ways to fund journalism through initiatives such as The Daily Herald Investigative Reporting Fund and the Environmental and Climate Change Reporting Fund, which allow donors to make tax-deductible contributions to support our efforts. If you, too, believe in what we do, you might consider giving.
Looking back, I’d tell that little boy he had reason to be happy. He would grow up to love a meaningful life in journalism, one that gave him the world.
All these years later, he’s still smiling.
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