“Not all those who wander are lost ...”
– J.R.R. Tolkien, from “The Fellowship of the Ring”
Journalism is my calling, not my job.
It’s so much more than writing stories and taking pictures.
You have a chance each day to interact with your community and help inform, entertain, educate and even challenge your audience on the happenings and issues of the moment.
You can elevate public debate and dialogue.
You can empower the weak and keep honest those in power.
You can even change the world.
The digital age hasn’t diminished the role of the journalist, only enhanced and expanded it.
The news mantra of opening up a “marketplace of ideas” has never been more true.
Through social media and digital tools, we connect with more readers, and in more ways, than ever before.
“Engagement” is a current buzzword in journalism. We engage when readers post comments on our stories (and when we respond), when they follow us on Twitter or “like” us on Facebook.
Readers are now intimately involved in the news process, indeed contributing content and directing coverage.
And through engagement, “community” happens.
We can hashtag and repost the hours away meaninglessly, or use our gifts to find greater shared awareness – illumination that can guide us as we map future roads to be explored together.
My personal journey has followed twisting trails of professional growth and broader understanding.
I’ve been a witness to the darkness of terror, and the resilience of the human spirit.
I’ve held the hands of the crying, shared the laughter of the victorious and overjoyed.
I’ve watched businesses thrive and falter, leaders come and go.
I’ve sat with soldiers torn by war, and felt uplifted by their courage.
I’ve stood in the shadows cast by the horrors of abuse, and rallied with those determined to move forward, stronger and wiser.
And that’s what this calling is about.
As journalists, we chronicle the moments – both big and small – as they occur.
We archive those moments for reflection.
We develop context for greater understanding.
And we look to the future through the prism of the past.
We engage, and by becoming engaged we connect – people with each other, and with us – and find meaning, direction.
Back in Johnstown after more than two years away, I’ve encountered many familiar and welcoming faces.
It’s my third go-round at The Tribune-Democrat and second stint as top editor.
And yet there’s a freshness to this moment.
A newness of technology – and of opportunity.
There are stories yet unwritten, happenings yet uncaptured.
There are people to be met, lives to be touched.
There are roads to be traveled, times to be tweeted, touted and shared.
Are you ready?
It’s time once again to get engaged.
Chip Minemyer is the editor of The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5091. Follow him on Twitter@MinemyerChip.