Press Play: Call me cliché? I'm fine with that!

Connie Swinney
Staff Writer •

Did you hear “the newslady” works for The Highlander again? How cliché!

It's such a cliché but there's no other way to describe it. I've come full circle. Twenty years ago, I wrote for the paper-of-record overlooking a lake in a charming little town nestled in the hills.

Now in 2018, I again work for the paper-of-record in a charming “little” town . . . er . . . but not so little anymore.

Because several thousand more people.

Because a hotel now blocks much of the lake view.

Because one big bridge over Lake Marble Falls has turned into two.

Not-to-mention more stop lights than you can shake a stick at.

I digress.

For those who have lived here all their lives or at least for the last couple of decades, you may recall my tour of duty as a staff writer with The Highlander in 1998 and 1999.

My first thought when I took the job a few weeks ago at my community news alma mater was “the more things change, the more they remain the same.”

When I took my seat at my new-old desk, I looked up and marveled at the same skylight I did 20 years ago. I always had a good idea what time of day it was based on how the sunshine cast its glow.

If it started storming, I'd typically spend a moment transfixed by the sight and sound of the rain showers and runoff. I like stuff like that. I'm simple that way.

On my first day back, I logged into a new-new 24-inch flat-screen Apple computer. Fortunately, the device was not the original cube-shaped Apple with the small screen – complete with a slot for the “floppy disk drive” – in which I used to write my articles in the late 1990s. “The Late 1990s!”

It donned on me, I'm a Newsasaur in the worst way. In the blink of an eye journalism resources, equipment and the way in which scribes such as myself gather, process and disseminate news has morphed into something out of an Arthur C. Clarke novel.

Here's a prime example. I asked, “Where's the watercooler?”

“Down the hallway on the left.”

Wait what! That's supposed to be the film room, where I loaded and unloaded rolls of film for my 35mm camera. Why is the composing room where we cut and pasted newspaper copy now the publisher's office?

The waxer, gone.

The exacto knives, gone.

Page negatives, gone.

Nothing left but the Cloud – an Omniscient Digital Diety which, if angered, can disappear photos and meeting dates as well as "auto-correct" to mis-spell important words like “public” to further exact fear and humiliation into all who are obligated to use the resource for information dissemination.

Even with all the changes, some things remain the same. I still hear the chirp of the police scanner. The phone still rings with a source who proclaims, “Do you want a really good story?”

I still browse the public records, call up city officials for quotes and wander into public meetings to gather information about taxes, budgets, bonds, infrastructure and upcoming community projects.

I realized that even though the tools have changed, I'm the same reporter I was 20 years ago. My duty is to inform the public about important events. Period.

To tell human interest stories of perseverance and courage which could help someone discover their own strength or heal from pain.

To unravel the complex aspects of city business, so citizens can understand how the decisions of governmental entities may impact their lives.

I'm humbled daily by what I write. Why I write is much bigger than myself. I'm fortunate to be invited into a newsroom surrounded by staff with the same philosophy about the responsibility of a community newspaper.

I'm also fortunate to live in a place with fascinating people who share important stories crucial to the well-being of our daily lives.

I know what you're thinking. “How cliché.”

But it's truth.

Connie Swinney is a staff writer for The Highlander and Burnet Bulletin. She covers Marble Falls city and community news, the police beat and the 33rd/424th Judicial District Courts. Her column Press Play appears on the Op-Ed page in The Highlander twice a month. Send her a note at connie@highlandernews.com.

 

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