Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Still Practicing Journalism the Right Way

Anne Adams (right) and her staff at The Recorder.
I've mentioned here before that one of my few remaining heroes in journalism is Publisher/Editor Anne Adams of The Recorder in tiny Monterey, a town of 200 and a weekly newspaper with 5,000 circulation.

Anne's been in the news--nationally--the past few days with her coverage of the Creigh Deeds tragedy in Bath County, one of the areas her paper covers. I sent her a note Sunday evening congratulating her on all the attention she's been receiving and Anne, properly, took exception to the celebratory tone of the note. I was happy for her because she beat the pants off all the competition, all the big news outlets. She didn't believe that was important.

She said her goal was to write the truth and to tell the story fully. She's right, of course, and that's why she remains one of my heroes, the one at the top of a small pile. Anne wrote a lead story yesterday after talking to Deeds that was sensitive, informative and full of grace. She gave this grieving man the opportunity to look forward and tell her what the death of his son meant to him and what it could mean to us all. You could read Anne's values all over the story. Here's what she wrote me yesterday evening:

"I reached out to Creigh because I love the guy, personally and professionally, have known him 22 years (and believe me: I agonized for 48 hours before I got the guts to contact him). I reached out to him precisely because all the biggie news people were reporting a ton of stuff, quoting each other, mostly, without having asked Creigh about it, and to my mind, he was the only person who could speak to this. So, I asked him. You saw the quotes."

She also said this, which nearly brought tears because of its purity and integrity:

"I think it's not much about modesty, and it's a lot about compassion, and our central human experience. We're all in this together, come what may. We're all suffering, in some form — or overcoming suffering, moving on, trying to bolster one another. Right? 

"I know, I'm pretty damned naive on some things; people tell me that a lot. I'm just always hoping the world will spin around right most of the time without making us so dizzy we lose sight of where we're headed or fall off the planet entirely, but what the hell do I know?"
A lot, Anne. An awful lot. I would love to be half the journalist you are.

(Incidentally, you can read about Anne in the February edition of Virginia Living Magazine. I wrote the story and I like it a lot.)

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