Yancey RoyAlbany Bureau Chiefyancey.firstname.lastname@example.org
Way back in the last century when I started college, I was a computer science and statistics major. Yeah, yeah, I know the jokes about journalists and math, but I was good at math then. No lie.
I was doing all right, plowing along through Fortran and COBOL and other long-out-of-style programming languages, but not enjoying it much. It all seemed too secluded from the world at the time, walled off and fumbling with formulas.
Though I couldn’t put into words at the time, in hindsight I knew I wanted to be involved in something with more real interactions with people. Not to go Will Rogers on you, but I generally like most people and I’m interested in their stories, their histories and what they’re trying to do in the world.
To make a long story medium, one day, with the encouragement of a college professor, I walked into the student newspaper offices and asked if I could help. I’ve been in the news business more or less since. I began as a sportswriter in Louisiana, my home state. But I’ve now worked in New York for three decades.
“We keep an eye on how politicians spend your money and what decisions affect your schools, businesses and daily lives.”
I’ve covered rodeos and high school football, a hostage standoff, a manhunt and too many political conventions. I’ve written about corruption at your New York State Capitol, but I’ve seen many touching moments there, too, like the joy of activists when same-sex marriage was legalized, and when adoptees were given access to their birth records.
I’ve spent the night on a newsroom floor waiting for a hurricane to roll in from the Gulf of Mexico, and flown in an airplane in Cuba where the seat instructions were in Russian and whose tires were so bald you could see steel belts. (It bounced three times on the landing, but made it.) My family likes the one about being on 15 flights in five days during a presidential campaign.
I hope this doesn’t sound like bragging, because it’s not how I meant it. Besides, many journalists have had far more colorful adventures than I have.
It’s meant to be a roundabout way of saying newspapers and journalists strive to tell about how we live. Writing about big events, keeping you informed about important matters and sometimes surprising you. Life’s rich pageant.
We keep an eye on how politicians spend your money and what decisions affect your schools, businesses and daily lives. Sometimes, it means sifting through hype and hysteria to get to the bottom of claims. Sometimes, it means finding malfeasance.
Knowing reporters are monitoring them (officials) does make a difference. But we also tell stories about the new restaurant or brew pub in the village, the candidates for the Oscars, the latest eighth-grade test scores and, yes, bad accidents on the Long Island Expressway.
And writing local obituary stories about Long Islanders, which, believe or not, can be one of the more fascinating assignments. You have to talk to relatives at a very bad time, but you give them space to tell a person’s story, and that can be enlightening and heartening for the family and the writer. I know: I’ve delivered two eulogies myself.