Following in my footsteps might not be a great idea


In case you haven’t noticed, I am certainly not the macho man type.

I can’t build anything. I don’t lift weights. I don’t chew tobacco. I don’t punch other guys on the arm when I say something I think is funny.

I don’t rebuild cars or houses, and I actually like literature and have a lot of shoes. A lot, trust me.

But I do have a son, and like every other man, I am pleased that I do. I don’t love him more than I love my daughter, but there is something about having a son to carry on the family name.

Now, I haven’t always liked my son, to be honest. When he was a teenager, he tested every last nerve that I had. I felt like he was actually trying to kill me by making my head explode.

I loved him, but for a couple of years there I didn’t like him very much. I know many who feel the same, whether or not they want to admit it.

Well, he has grown into a great man. Smart, loving, mature and a lot of fun to be around. After six years in the Air Force, he is now using the G.I. Bill to attend college in Florida. Sure, I am proud.

But I am also worried. I am worried because it looks like he might follow in my footsteps and become a journalist. He seems to enjoy reading and writing, and is a big sports guy. He is one of those guys who can tell you details about most players in most sports, especially college sports.

So he wants to be in the sports realm, possibly a sports reporter.

A part of me is happy to see that, of course. I started my career as a sports writer at two daily newspapers before moving over to news. It is a great job, especially at a community newspaper.

But this is not a growth industry. Just look at all of the recent layoffs, from not only newspapers but also digital news sites. I worry what this business will look like in 10 years.

The news business being in its death throes is not new. At my first job, my editor – who was 65 – told me he was glad he wasn’t just getting into the business. He said it wasn’t like it used to be and wouldn’t be around long.

That was closing in on 30 years ago, but the decline in this business model is pretty clear. Some times are worse than others – the great economic collapse of 2008 was particularly hard. But “growth” is not a word you would use when describing newspapers.

I don’t believe actual newspapers will be gone anytime soon, or even in my lifetime. I also don’t believe they will be around forever, and digital is obviously the future. That is probably where my son, if he does stick with journalism, will find his future.

We will, however, always need good journalists. They are more important now than ever. I am sure what it means to be a journalist will shift and change over time – will citizen journalists continue to rise? – and that is not a bad thing. But we will need people to put feet on the street and hold government accountable. The louder the politicians complain, the more necessary journalism is, I believe.

My son might go into journalism, or maybe sports information. He might also switch gears and go into something else entirely. Whatever it is, I hope he does it well and with a passion and that he loves it. That’s all any parent can hope for.