2020 ended on a high note for me


“Have you ever heard of News Media Corp.?”

I was talking on the phone with my son, Nick. He was days away from college graduation and was looking for his first job in the newspaper industry. I know, I know. Newspapers aren’t exactly a growth industry. Don’t think I didn’t tell him that when he talked about majoring in Journalism (actually, some type of new-fangled communications).

But in the long tradition of fathers giving advice to sons, he ignored me.

It is kind of the story of our life, to a degree. Nick came to live with me in California when he was in high School because he wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire academically in Wisconsin. His mom had reached the end of her rope, so to speak, so it was time for me to take the lead role.

Nick is a smart guy, but as a teen he was pretty lazy when it came to school. This was the story of my high school life as well. I graduated near the bottom of my class in high school yet graduated with honors from college.

Nick and I butted heads plenty his last two years of high school. I had weekly calls with his teachers and made sure he got his work done. We argued and I will admit I made his life a living hell. Well, as much as providing a vehicle for him to drive, food for him to eat and a nice home to live is making his life a living hell.

But he did graduate, and our relationship instantly got better. He then followed in my footsteps and joined the Air Force.

Nick served six years in the Air Force, including a tour in the Middle East. He carried a gun every day at work. This was a kid who a few years before I had to track down in town because he didn’t answer his phone.

When he joined, I encouraged him to sign up for the G.I. Bill to help with college. I am glad I did, as he moved to Florida after his enlistment was up to get his education. He landed at Florida Atlantic University after some time at a junior college. He started following sports local reporters on Twitter, engaged with the student newspaper and was eventually brought on to write a couple of previews for the school’s football team.

Well, Nick recently graduated from FAU. He ended his college career as sports editor of the school newspaper.

Days before he graduated, he called me and asked me the question you see at the top of this column.

“News Media Corp.? Sure, I have heard of it. In fact, I work for News Media Corp.,” I said, telling him that it is the company that owns The Ogle County Life.

He chuckled. Turns out he had applied for a job as a grunt reporter for a News Media Corp.-owned newspaper in Wyoming and had an interview with the publisher.

The interview apparently went well. A few days later Nick graduated from college and landed his first job as a working journalist … with the same company his dad works for. Honestly, this was the greatest Christmas present I could have asked for.

We all want our children to be happy, and successful is good too. Even though 2020 has been a tough year, it was also the year my daughter – a teacher – got married to a great guy. And my son, who I wasn’t sure was going to make it through high school, graduated from college and is starting his career in the same field that I have made my life’s work.

So 2020? Clearly not all bad.