I hope I didn’t disturb Garnet Reynolds.
Lynn and I went to see “The Post,” and I wound up sitting next to Garnet. He remarked that it was interesting to be watching a movie about a newspaper while sitting next to a guy who works at one.
There were times when I chortled, snorted and even laughed out loud – recognizing the familiar patterns of newspaper life. I could identify with it all – the frisson of electricity in the newsroom when a major story is breaking, the discussions among the decision makers when there are ethical issues, the handing off of various pieces of a story to different staff members, the anonymous phone calls, the practical aspects of meeting the pressroom deadline.
The McNamara-Graham friendship was one I certainly understood. In the newspaper business, you do have to publish news that is not going to look good for people you like and admire. We don’t enjoy doing that, but our primary responsibility must always be to the readers who depend on us to tell them what is going on – good, bad and otherwise.
I remember the events detailed in “The Post.” As a pre-teen, I had already decided I wanted to write for a living and had concluded the best way to do that was to become a journalist. I have never regretted that choice and still look forward to coming to work each day.
I’m always eager to find interesting stories and to write them and see them in print – and in our day, online. Feeling the community’s heart beating every day provides an excitement I would surely miss if I did not come to 16 Jefferson St. to work.
I told Garnet after the film that we at the newspaper do talk about stories and issues, though not national ones. Then this past week, we found ourselves covering threats against local schools and a student with a gun on one campus. The Times-Herald news staff made every effort to tell all we knew, fully and fairly. Sometimes the big, national issues are happening right around the corner.
“The Post” was well-made – the story told with good pacing. Tom Hanks was great as Ben Bradlee, and I could empathize with Bradlee’s determination to tell the groundbreaking story about the crevasse of falsehood in the government’s official version of the Vietnam War.
Meryl Streep captured the sensitivity and strength of Katherine Graham. Since our younger daughter, Jane, is a Vassar graduate, I couldn’t help but note that Streep, also a Vassar grad, was playing another alumna of the same institution.
The scene where the Supreme Court ruling was read aloud brought a lump to my crusty journalistic throat. Justice Hugo Black’s words affirm many things I believe and try to remember every day as I work with The Times-Herald staff to tell Coweta County’s story:
“In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people.”
I look forward to being back in the office tomorrow as my colleagues and I work together to tell another “first draft” of Coweta’s history.
Winston Skinner is the news editor of The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .