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Archive for the ‘journalism’ Category

A Good News Day

Daily Sketch, by Pat Bean: Another way I keep my mind off the bad news that dominates the media these days.

I often start my day by reading the news. I’ve made it my goal to find something good in what I read, just a little something to offset all the bad news going on these days.

I’m stubborn, so I usually do eventually find something to cheer me up, to confirm the belief of one of my journalism mentors, Charles Kuralt, that there’s enough goodness and kindness out there to make up for all the bad-news headlines.

I’ve been in this habit since way back in the late 1960s, when I was a green-behind-the-ears reporter working at a small local Texas Gulf Coast newspaper.

It started when a woman called into the paper to report that some young teenagers had aided her in changing a tire when she had a blowout on a back road.

“You just never print anything good about teenagers,” she said.

As it happened, this was a week in which our paper had been running a daily, front-page story, featuring outstanding high school students in our community. I asked the woman if she had seen the articles. She hadn’t, then shamefully admitted that she read the paper every day but somehow had missed them.

It seems people are drawn more to reading bad news than good news, I concluded, and made a promise to myself to not ever be that woman. It influenced how I read a newspaper, and how I reported the news. Most news, at least back then, was just basic information, neither good nor bad. And while the bad news, even back then, had bolder headlines, the newspaper also included good news stories, a new business opened, a dog saved its owner in some way, scholarships were awarded.

Good news back then also included many first-woman achievements, which I wrote about frequently in the 1970s and 1980s. It was yet one more of these that caught my attention today in the 2020s.

 For the first time, soccer players representing the United States men’s and women’s national teams will receive the same pay and prize money, including at World Cups, under landmark agreements with the U.S. Soccer Federation that will end years of litigation and bitter public disputes over what constitutes “equal pay.”

The U.S. women’s soccer team, it should be noted, won a World Cup championship and an Olympic bronze medal during its six-year fight for equal pay.

As a woman who fought for equal pay for most of her career, I think this achievement is definitely good news. While it doesn’t outweigh the other news I read this day, it does let me continue believing in silver linings.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Great blue herons on frozen Farmington Bay in Utah: One of the best things about being a writer is that it makes you more observant because you will want to put what you see with your eyes into words. This is just one way being a writer has enriched my life.

I Think of Writing as a Gift

  For 37 years, as a newspaper journalist, I wrote almost every day. It meant I often saw my name in print, and the thrill of this never dimmed. It’s probably why I write a blog, as I’ve eschewed having ads on it.

Author Anne Lamott, whose book Bird by Bird is one I’m currently rereading for the third time, says some writers need to see their name in print to know they exist. I think I am one of them.

Now retired and having lived over eight decades on Planet Earth, I still get a joyful satisfaction in seeing my byline, whether it is on the book I have written, on magazine articles that occasionally get published, or this blog.

 And I was overjoyed yesterday, when I learned that my blog earned third place in Story Circle Network’s blog contest for my post Then Being Then.  https://patbean.net/2021/11/03/then-being-then/ The well-deserved first place, in case you are interested, went to Stephanie Rafflelock for We Matter at Every Age https://www.byline-stephanie.com/post/we-matter-at-every-age

As an old broad, writing has come to be just about my only outlet to still try and make a difference in the world, however tiny it might be.

 To date, I’ve posted 1,499 blogs. I’ve often encouraged readers to be kind, to be more open-minded, to not believe everything they hear or read, and to get their news from multiple sources – and I’ve written thousands of words about birds and nature, two things that keep me sane when chaos reigns.

These days, I write a lot about past experiences, a validation for my own life, but hopefully the posts let others who have had similar experiences know they are not alone. And I also try to make readers laugh or be awed by some trivial fact – as I laugh or am awed.

I’m a writer. That’s what I do. I can’t imagine being anything else.   

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Sketching and watching birds, like this Gila Woodpecker, is one way I get my mind off the chaos of daily news headlines.

Agreement is Rare

Political speaking, when it comes to certain things, especially politics, my family pretty much has America covered – and for peace’s sake we usually keep our views to ourselves.

 With a great margin for error, this is how I see things among my five children.

I have one child to the left of me, one child to the right of me, one child that knows without a doubt that their side, whatever it is, is always the right side, one child who gets quite passionate about their particular side, and one child who appears not to follow the political arena at all.

That last may be the lucky one. I tried not reading a newspaper for the first four months after I retired from being a newspaper journalist. It was a relaxing, but not a satisfying time, in my life. I came to the conclusion that sticking my head in the sand and ignoring what’s going on in the world is not for me.

These days, reading the NY Times, and then the varied and even conflicting news on my computer’s home page while I drink cream-laced coffee in the morning, gives me plenty to think about — and fume about — for the rest of the day.

 My children grew up in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s’, and we often talked about world events. We seldom agreed back then on anything either.

I actually take pride in that. It means I raised independent children who mostly took an interest in the world they lived in and learned to think for themselves.

 With my own family as a role model, I know it’s possible to get along without chaos, ugliness or war — even if there’s no way in hell, we’re ever likely to agree with one another.

I suspect it works because we all care about and love each other – and have the sense, at least most of the time, to keep our political opinions to ourselves. 

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited) and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Blue-footed boobies like to show off their brightly colored feet. And they do so in a Hokey-Pokey kind of way. I got to dance with one. — Wikimedia photo

If I listed all the things I still want to do in life, I would have to reach the ripe old age of 699 – at least. Besides, I’m not sure I would want to do that. My wrinkles already have wrinkles, and knowing that I only have limited time left on this planet energizes me.

I’m thankful that I’ve crossed off quite a few priority items on my bucket list, like taking an African Safari, rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, sky diving, getting a tattoo, exploring this country in an RV with only a canine companion and meeting Maya Angelou.

Well, actually meeting Maya was never on my Bucket List. It just happened because I was at the right place at the right time – a reporter in a city Maya visited.

The truth is many of the best things in my life have not been on any bucket list. I treasure the time I danced with a blue-footed booby in the Galapagos. I was hiking with an Audubon group and was alone in the lead when I came across the dancing booby. I knew I was invited to join him by the look in his eyes.

Now how do you put something like that on a bucket list?

Realistically, I know I’m not going to see or do most of the remaining things on my bucket list – like revisiting the calm serenity of Lake Moraine in Canada.

Instead of whining about it, or perhaps after whining about it I should say, I’ve started a non-bucket list of simple joys, like sitting with a friend on my third-floor balcony and watching Tucson’s spectacular sunset.

If I look hard enough, I can find something that would never make a bucket list quite often.

I’ve always wanted a canine companion, but how could I know that I would get the one dog I needed to bring balance to my life.

The whimsies of nature are also surprising and delightful. One of my best moments was watching an osprey catch a fish only to have it snatched by a bald eagle. Now who would have thought to put that on a bucket list?

Yup. I think I’m retiring the bucket list for the non-bucket list, which is more doable for old broads like me.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Knowledge is Money

Me in the Standard-Examiner newsroom in 1985. Note the size of the computer monitors. And for those who don’t know, that big book on my left is a telephone book listing almost everyone’s home and business phone number. — Photo by Charlie Trentelman.

“Knowledge is money,” said a recent headline in the New York Times. The story, in response to four million workers recently quitting their jobs, many for higher-paying position, went on to note that if more workers knew they could make more elsewhere, even more would quit.

The brought to mind, my own decisions, several times, not to quit my job in favor of higher paying job opportunities. I loved being a newspaper reporter, and that was very important to me. In fact, I once stepped down from a higher paying editor’s position to become an environmental reporter. It was my favorite beat, and one that earned me several writing awards.  

I had decided being happy, and living on less, was more important than working a desk job. And I didn’t want to be one of those people I met as a reporter, those who thought a position and money made up for them going to work every day at a job they hated.

But then I then remembered, how sneaky I had been to gain knowledge of what the men at my work place were paid. I rifled through file cabinets when no one was around – and discovered that the men in the office were being paid over twice what I was making. This was back in the early 1970s.

I used that information in my fight for equal pay, especially after my boss, who joined the fight with me to upper management, had said I produced more work than any of his other employees.

I got my raise. As the NY Times article said, knowledge is money.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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I Stand for Truth

This was not political discourse. This was an attack on Democracy

What Do You Stand For?

It’s time for a political rant. As much as I try to avoid them, the Republicans, by calling the January 6 attack on the capitol “legitimate political discourse” have pushed me into standing up for what I believe, or else consider myself a coward.

People were attacked on January 6. People died, vandalism took place, and our Democratic way of life was threatened. We expect such things to happen in South American and African countries. Now we are no better. Our moral superiority has been stomped on and the remains left to drain into a sewer.

Biden may not have accomplished as much as he promised – what president ever did – but in my mind that’s not a bad thing. Nor is the fact that he has even been stymied by members of his own party. That’s a positive thing in my mind. No one person or party should have all the power. We are a diverse nation, and that we only have two political parties, at opposite ends of the political spectrum, is ridiculous.

I have never voted a straight party line in my life – although I might now. Not because I believe in everything the Democratic party stands for, but because there seems to be nothing I stand for in the Republican Party.

There is no question but that far too many Republicans are willing to sacrifice truth and justice for their own political gains. The truth may not always be pretty, or what we want, but anything else is not viable.

We’ve ignored all the many lies – in both parties – for way too long. It’s time we demand the truth, and the truth is that the attack on the capitol was incited and led by people who have no respect for Democracy. There were far too many white supremacists among the attackers, as well as others who think they are better than other humans.

Sadly, among them were also many so-called Christians, who are anything but what the name implies. That the Evangelical community, who was all over Bill Clinton for his adultery, can now support an adulterous man who brags about his conquests, and thinks lying and cheating are the way to win in business, is beyond me.

Truth knows no party and no religion. It simply is. And it’s time we demand it of our political leaders – and of ourselves. It’s time for those who don’t like what is going on to stand up and be counted.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited) and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Shoneshone Falls, as painted by Thomas Moran. One of the nicest things about Twin Falls, Idaho was its scenic location near the Snake River Gorge and this waterfall, which was located just six miles away from my home in town. The original of this painting was found in the local library during my two-year stay in the small Southern Idaho town. I remember those days, and my former boss, Steve Hartgen fondly.

Men do, Too Many Women Don’t

I recently received news that Steve Hartgen, the former managing editor of the Times-News in Twin Falls, Idaho, where I worked as regional editor for two years in the mid-1980s, had died.

I had accepted the job at the small local newspaper during a transitional time in my life.  It was the first time that I was entirely on my own. Divorced and with all my children on their own in the world, I was kind of full of myself.

Steve was a hard-nosed newsman who didn’t go easy on his reporters when he didn’t think they were doing their best. I respected him, and we got along well, mostly I think because he allowed me to stand up to him when I thought he was wrong. I never thought of him as sexist, but several of the female reporters did. They complained to me — because I was a woman like them and would understand — that our managing editor was harder on women than he was on the male reporters.

I didn’t see it that way. There was no question in my mind about Steve being hard on the female reporters, because he was. But as I saw it. Steve treated both the men and the women exactly the same harsh way. So, what was the difference? I asked myself this question, and then began to look for answers. It didn’t take long for me to come to a conclusion.

 When the men received a lecture from the managing editor, they listened, nodded, then afterwards shrugged it off, not convinced they had done anything wrong, certainly not something they should worry about. The women, meanwhile, took every word of the boss’ admonitions to heart, some even crying about it. They feared being fired, and always promised to do better.

The difference was clearly the amount of self-confidence the men had, and the lack of self-confidence the women suffered from. It was something I had seen before but not understood, and something I would see again many times during the remainder of my journalism career.

I learned a lot from working with Steve Hartgen those two years, especially the need to stand up for myself because no one else probably would. As to Steve, he will be missed. The news media needs more of his kind today: Hardnosed newswomen and newsmen who believe facts and truth are important for readers to know, but especially those whose only agendas are truth and facts and not their personal agendas.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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A storm’s brewing — but the sun will come out tomorrow. — Watercolor by Pat Bean

Trying to Think Positive

          Sometimes stuff – translate shit — happens that might be a blessing in disguise. At least that’s what I would prefer to think about losing a writing folder on my computer.

About a year ago, I started writing a book about my journalism years. I’ve titled the book Between Wars, because it’s how I see my 37-year newspaper career.  My first significant bylined story was an interview with a mom whose son had been killed in Vietnam – we cried together; and one of my last pieces was an editorial urging the president not to take us back into Iraq a second time – he didn’t listen.

          Anyway, I got about 10,000 words into it when I realized what I had written was garbage. OK, maybe not quite garbage, but I’m a writer, and like most writers, I usually feel that what I write is never good enough. But this time I believed I was right – my narrative bored me. So, how in the heck was it going to keep readers turning pages

I finally just put the project away because I couldn’t figure out a way to go forward.  Lately, I’ve been reconsidering tackling the project again. Perhaps you’ve even noticed that I’ve been using my blogs, writing about journalistic events in my life, to stimulate my thinking. And I started a new computer folder to keep track of research and ideas for the book.

          Yesterday, I decided it was time to go back and read what I wrote a year ago, and salvage anything usable. The folder, however, was missing – which had me saying that four letter S word numerous times.

          Had I accidentally deleted that old Between Wars folders when I had done a cleanup of my computer a couple of weeks ago? Maybe. Then I started asking myself if that was actually a bad thing? Or was it a good thing because it meant I truly had to start over?

          After a bit of wailing and hair-pulling, my silver-lining syndrome kicked in and I began thinking positive. But excuse me while I stamp around and rage, and maybe even cry, for at least another hour.  

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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