Last week, Calvary Baptist Church School senior Abbigail Hudson “shadowed” me Friday as I went about putting out the weekend editions as the managing editor of the Sun Journal.
Hudson, Class of 2019 salutatorian, aspires to be a writer and will be attending UNC Chapel Hill in the fall.
Hudson sought answers about whether she should pursue writing as a career path in life.
My immediate impulse to answer that question was “no” but I kept this opinion to myself so as to learn more about this senior who is at the cusp of a bright future. In essence, what would I tell myself if I could go back in time share advice with myself at 18 years old?
Writing, particularly newspaper work, can strain almost any relationship because when the spirit hits to put words on paper, nothing else matters. I missed my daughter’s first steps because I was chasing some damn story that I no longer remember. I’ve worked long hours to make this newspaper reflect the community that it serves.
Pay is not great, but I count myself as lucky that I am paid to write for a living.
Moreover, I like to think that the writing we do at this newspaper matters.
Hudson had a spate of questions of her own that I did my best to answer.
On bias, no, we don’t take marching order from any political party or public official – there's no time and even less of an inclination. That said, bias does exist in journalism, same as it does everywhere else. There’s no denying that the recent story about that kid wearing the red MAGA hat and the Native American exposed many newsroom’s ideological bias on so many different levels.
Hudson asked, and really – she was interviewing me – how do I combat bias in my writing?
I answered that I am biased toward the community as I like to think I give people around here the benefit of the doubt. Also, because of my upbringing and way of looking at the nation’s state of affairs, I’m unique to many newsrooms. That’s OK because when I write a story, I’m able to share a perspective that’s often dismissed or ridiculed by the major media outlets on a daily basis.
Because of the sad state of affairs in journalism, overcoming this ideological wall drives me to provide the best balance and accuracy that I can. I refuse to be a part of the echo chamber. That’s my inspiration too.
Hudson asked if I’ve ever burned out from writing. Yes.
Then I told her that writing, when done right, will change you. As a longtime reporter now editor, I’ve covered a multitude of terrible happenings so much so that my outlook on life is a bit … darker, jaded and even cynical. Realizing such, I try to seek out stories that show the best side of humanity so as to prove that there is still good in people.
For example, I believe that Casey Hathaway’s happy ending was by God’s grace and a testament to the power of prayer.
Maybe after our time together, I learned as much about Hudson and perhaps myself, as she did about what makes ink stained writers tick.
Maybe Hudson will become a writer someday or pursue medicine – follow your passion no matter what.