Frankly, my dear, I do give a damn

Three times in the past two weeks, someone has told me that I thrive on creating controversy.

“You love it,” one said.

No, I don’t.

I love writing and photography.

Always have.

I don’t love controversy.

Never have.

I made up my mind that I wanted to be a journalist when I was 12 years old. No other profession ever crossed my mind.

While working for The Floyd Press in high school, Pete Hallman — then owner of the paper — gave me a book called “So, You Want To Be a Newspaperman.” In it, one editor wrote that “journalism is a profession for people who can’t do anything else.”

He was right.

The only time in my working life when I was miserable was a stretch when I left journalism and worked in other fields.

Hated that period of my life.

Hated myself.

I love journalism because every day, every assignment and every story is different. You approach each story as a blank sheet of paper. The actions of those you report on fill in the page. The past is irrelevant unless it is pertinent to the story.

That’s why I laugh when someone accuses me of having a grudge against them or a bias against their group or point of view. I don’t hold grudges. Don’t have time for them. Biases are for Fox News or MSNBC.

Now in semi-retirement, I work for The Floyd Press as a contract reporter and photographer not because I have to but because I love it.

I write for other publications and a number of web sites for the same reason.

I love being a reporter.

But I don’t love controversy, nor do I court it. I don’t like becoming part of a story.

I have to laugh when someone makes a completely invalid claim that I write the way I do “because it sells newspapers.”

I don’t pay attention to the circulation of any publication that I write or shoot pictures for. I own several web sites but can’t tell you the traffic numbers for any of them. I never check.

I don’t laugh, however, when someone claims that I don’t care about what I write.

Of course I care. I’m human.

I care when I see an elected or appointed official abuse the public trust. I care about the effects of that abuse.

I care when I see some bean counter in a corporate office put the bottom line above the best interest of employees or customers.

And I care when I see a special interest group abuse the political process to push a hidden agenda on a gullible and unsuspecting populace.

Because, my dear, I do give a damn.

I just don’t give a damn who gets upset because I do.

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