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News Detail - Bob Woodward

Career inspiration can follow throughout life

Bob Woodward, Journalist
Thursday, November 15, 2018

When I think of all of the things that shaped my calling as a journalist, it’s an interesting list. There was Mrs. Haverly, who was both the typing teacher and the adviser for the high school newspaper and yearbook in my hometown of Britton. She died many years ago, but her lessons still live in me, even though she taught me at the entry point of what would become my career.

She cared foremost about accuracy and precision. She was a kind woman but also strict. She believed in the good work I could do, but once when I was having a particularly difficult time pasting down the columns of the pages in the paper, she brought me to tears.

This was a long time ago, not as far back as hot type. I’m not that old. But it was during the day when stories came out of a machine in a long, column-wide strip and were waxed onto pages. In a simplified description, those waxed pages eventually were printed as the newspaper. If there was a mistake in the story, found during proofreading, the custom was to reset the line where the correction was made and replace it or even replace the entire paragraph by waxing the piece and sticking it over the top of what was already stuck onto the page. What could possibly go wrong with that?

I thought I was doing pretty well, but things got a little messy and her concern was that something was going to fall off that page when it was taken to the printer, causing some messed-up copy riddled with mistakes.
This was precise work that involved a sharp bladed knife and good eyesight.

She was right. But I was at the point where one more pressure was one too many.

I left the room for a bit and returned with red eyes. I think she later apologized, after the stresses of deadline had passed.

There were two other people who sparked my interest in journalism in the 1970s, before I even graduated from high school. They were far from local characters.

Woodward and Bernstein.

I’m sure you’ve heard of them.

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein have inspired countless news people to pursue the profession and are clearly the most famous journalists of our time, maybe of all time. For me, their involvement in unraveling Watergate and breaking the story for The Washington Post was and still is fascinating. While the story was important and they won a Pulitzer Prize, how they did it is sometimes unbelievable.

It took persistence, dedication, discernment, talent, luck and flat-out hard work. They kept at it and got to the bottom of things, making a difference for an entire nation. That’s moxie, and that’s what I wanted to do – make a difference. It doesn’t mean I thought I would break a national story or that I was always on the lookout for the most suspicious people, but it instilled in me the importance of truth and fairness and plain old hard work so that people could know about the workings of their community or country.

Part of me can’t believe they’re still at it during a time in their lives when it would be easy to completely retire from a lifetime that had to embody so much stress and hard work. But in their mid-70s, they keep writing.

I can’t say I’m completely surprised. Their style of journalism, the kind that gets at the truth and makes the kind of difference that is at the foundation of the profession, probably just means you do it forever because you believe in it that much.

The old-style journalism still is my favorite kind. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate today’s 24-7 social media approach to the news. They are simply two different creatures.

Woodward and Bernstein are scheduled to speak on “Power, the Press and the Presidency” at Augustana University next spring as part of the Boe Forum. It’s my alma mater. I’m feeling pretty giddy about it.

Do I plan to be there? You bet, even if I need to find deep throat to get me a ticket.

Source : https://moodycountyenterprise.com/article/career-inspiration-can-follow-throughout-life

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