Remembering the Good Old Days of the Media

Forget sleeping pills. I can put someone into dreamland just by talking about the good old days in the newsroom.

Before I can tell how I broke into radio news because no one else wanted the job, eyelids begin to flutter and then shut faster than those of a cat sitting in the sun.
So I will keep it simple. There was a time when every city, town and hamlet had a local radio, newspaper or television station that had reporters attending school board meeting, city council sessions and water and sewer advisory board gatherings.

Many of these reporters moved up to larger markets and brought their lessons from the trenches with them. They sometimes became editors or news directors, sharing their knowledge and sense of fairness.
It was tough work with low pay and, except for a few, little chance of making it to the big city markets. But there was a love of the getting the news, a calling like those in education and health care.
The internet, social media and the 24-hour news cycle changed everything. Newspaper companies thought they were invincible so came too late to the online news format. Marketing and sales managers were publishers so the news content shrunk as ads went elsewhere. Reporters lost their jobs with nowhere to go.
But maybe there is a change coming.

Report for America, a nonprofit organization modeled after AmeriCorps has a goal of placing 1,000 journalists in understaffed newsrooms by 2022. According to an article by Nellie Bowles in the New York Times, three reporters were placed in Appalachia. There are over 700 applicants that could be placed across the country by this summer. Bowles quoted reporter Molly Born: “It’s important to have reporters based in parts of America where some people feel misunderstood.” She covers the southern coal fields for the West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Local reporting makes a difference and just maybe some of those news gathers working today will have stories of their own to tell one day.

To learn more visit ReportForAmerica.org.

The Promenade Magazine/South Florida Blog. By Ray Brasted

Michael McCloud is perched on his chair on a stage he built 28 years ago. An old white dog lies peacefully nearby. McCloud slowly lights another in a chain of cigarettes, takes a drag and then carefully inserts it in a fret on his guitar neck.

At 68 he seems older than his years; grizzled and worn, perhaps from looking at life through the uncompromising eyes of a story-teller and songwriter, an occupational hazard.

Perhaps he once inspired to be famous, maybe like Jimmy Buffet or other troubadours who got lucky writing and singing about life. Now he sings his songs and takes requests at the Schooner Wharf Bar located on the docks in Key West.

“All I want to do now is come here and sing my songs and then go back home,” McCloud says. His songs are about living a life where he is not “bothering nobody who isn’t bothering me”.

In a bitter-sweet irony he is being discovered because of the internet and is on UTube and music sites such as RDO. “They are a little bit late for that, don’t you think?” (Pauses) “Like what’s the point,” he told the small crowd at the Conch Republic. He says it with a crooked smile, like it is a not really funny joke on him.

I wanted to tell McCloud that he is not that old, that there is still plenty of time for fame and fortune, and to have a wider audience hear his songs. But the words don’t come. He is a man who is slow in his gait and perhaps resigned to his fate.

I hope that his version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, which is haunting and beautiful, might reflect his outlook on life.
Ed. Note: You can find Michael McCloud’s music online by searching his name and Key West.