I remember the day that re-affirmed for me that I had made the right decision and chosen the right career. I think about it a lot, actually. But, it is fitting now considering that Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

In 2011, I was a journalism student at Auburn University and there was an opportunity for extra credit. All we had to do was attend a talk given on campus by Earl Caldwell.

Caldwell was the lone journalist on the scene the day King was shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Caldwell said he had been in town for the New York Times to cover a march King was leading. Caldwell was on the ground floor of the motel and he had described lying on the bed in his room when he heard a loud blast. King was standing on the balcony just over him talking when the shot rang out. Caldwell says he ran to the door and saw as a car raced across the blacktop. Caldwell grabbed a pen and paper and then called in the report.

In that auditorium at Auburn University, I heard this man give, in great detail, the account of this story — you can still find it online.

I understood the importance of this profession right then and there.

FIGHTING FOR COMMUNITY JOURNALISM

Journalism comes under attack all the time for various reasons. Whether we are talking about “Fake News” or “Alternative Facts,” there’s often this assumption that the media is out to get you. Like there’s some sort of agenda we’re trying to push.

I assure you that that’s never been the case for me here. What we do is important. We keep you informed on what’s going on in your community.

I love community journalism. But, as you’ll see today, there’s not many pages in your community paper. This is a direct result of tariffs being considered on newsprint from Canada by the U.S. government. We’ve run several editorials about it already, so I’m going to spare you the details. Long-story-short: this greatly impacts community papers who can’t afford large markups on newsprint, and there’s just not enough American mills to go around. The cost of newsprint to publishers in the United States is expected to climb by more than 30 percent. These tariffs hurt readers the most. There’s a nationwide shortage of newsprint. We love serving you, but we have to do something. So, you’ll see fewer pages and smaller sections.

Journalism has a legacy as old as this country. It’s something I’m passionate about. It’s a passion that grew in me that night in 2011, and it’s something that has only increased over the past seven years.

Thank you for supporting the Times-Journal. I hope that you continue to support us as we continue to work for you.

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