As I approach the anniversary of my third decade in Oakdale – arriving here in California on Sunday, March 21, 1993 and starting my career with The Oakdale Leader/Escalon Times/Riverbank News a few days later on March 24, I was recently able to share a little bit about that journey.
Sometime last year, I was asked about speaking to the local AAUW, American Association of University Women, group this year and agreed. It was scheduled for April but, a few days ahead of the March meeting, I was asked if I could switch and take that date, with the March speaker being rescheduled for April.
No worries; in fact, one of the things I offered up during my talk was how in my journalism career, “flexibility” has always been key. One of the other good things about switching last minute to fill in is that I didn’t have a whole lot of time to think about it, therefore I didn’t get nervous.
It was a unique situation as well; the meeting was hosted at the Escalon Library on Saturday, March 11 and I already had to be at the library for a couple of special programs that day. Talk about convenient, I covered my events and got to enjoy speaking at the AAUW gathering.
So, as I said, my talk included that fact that curiosity and flexibility are essential in this business. To be honest and blunt, you have to be nosy, though curious is the more acceptable term. If I see something out of the ordinary happening, I have to know the who, what, where, why, etc., etc.
Flexibility comes in to play as well, since you never quite know what will come up during the course of your work day. It may be normal, go according to plan, but there are those days when you unexpectedly find yourself chasing down a multi-alarm fire or dropping everything to run off to an absolutely-can’t-miss event that organizers forgot to tell you about in advance that started five minutes ago.
As I recounted for the AAUW group my early days as a young journalist, starting in radio and then moving to newspapers, I got energized all over again. Sometimes, after years in the business, you can forget why you got started in the first place. For me, it was the chance to tell people’s stories, to connect the community, to share good news and – even when tough – break the bad news. It’s all part of the package and ultimately is what helps to make small town weekly newspapers special; we fill a unique niche and we continue to be blessed by support from our readers and communities. It made me appreciate the fact that I can earn a living doing what I love: writing.
It was also a chance to reminisce about how I ended up in California – answering a want ad and flying out for an interview because I knew that ad was meant for me – and look at all the blessings in my life since arriving in The Golden State.
Yes, my small rural hometown will always have a special place in my heart and I have great memories of the mentorship from those who helped me in the early days of my career. But I am grateful that I seized the opportunity to respond to that ‘Help Wanted’ ad and had enough belief in my abilities and faith that it was the right move to make. It was a true joy to share what I do with a group of women who have forged their own paths as well.
I didn’t have much of an actual outline for my talk at the meeting; I just kind of wanted to get from Point A to Point B and it all came from the heart. Sometimes that’s the best way to do it.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 209-847-3021.