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Last Updated: Jul 22, 2010 - 8:26:51 AM



Commentary: Journalism baptism by fire

Shot from the relative safety and security she’d known, like a cannonball, she flailed over the county and plunged downward toward the ground, thunking into the soft, untilled cropland somewhere east of nowhere. She sat there for some time unsure of where to go or what to do next.

Okay, so that’s a bit melodramatic. Although losing a job that one has immersed oneself in completely, almost to the exclusion of all else, is difficult, it is only melodramatic if a person builds it that way.

For me, the incredible opportunity to be a part of something so charged with community support, creative optimism and national awareness has been one of the best experiences of my life. In the last eight months I’ve personally photographed President-elect Barack Obama and former Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates, John McCain and Sarah Palin. I’ve shaken hands with and photographed Congressman Leonard Boswell. This election year and these economic times have only made the experience more amazing from a journalist’s point of view.

’ve also learned more in eight months while working at the East Iowa Herald under Mitch Traphagen about my dream of writing for a living than from all of my high school and college writing courses put together. For a while there, it seemed as though everything I’d experienced in life was meant as grist for this mill and I was truly fulfilled and usually thoroughly exhausted. We really did a lot. And, in my humble opinion, it was good.

So now it’s over, at least in the form of this publication. But…for awhile there, it was a seemingly blessed association of contributors: a sort of non-gathered gathering of creatively charged and sometimes inspired people.

It probably seemed to the EIH readers as though these folks had a Monday meeting every week and were operating and thinking as one unit, communicating effectively amongst each other to accomplish one unified, quality product each week. If it did seem so, it was in great part due to its owner and publisher who, each week, wrote with great insight about his country and his community, and who assembled all of the local editorial, national AP and local advertising pieces into what has been described by another professional as “A great newsy news” publication. In reality, the columnists each contributed from separate places and seldom if ever saw each other over the course of the year.

It is to Mitch’s credit that they were all dedicated, loyal and hardworking in their efforts to contribute and also to his credit that he so quickly and without prior knowledge of them or their community, recognized the united spirit that made these people right for the East Iowa Herald and all that it was and always will be.

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