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“There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil: Remain detached from the great.” – Walter Lippmann.

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I was just playing around with some new watercolors when I painted this. It looks a bit befuddled, just as I was as a fledgling reporter.

            “As anchorman of the CBS Evening News, I signed off my nightly broadcasts for nearly two decades with a simple statement: ‘And that’s the way it is.’ To me, that encapsulates the newsman’s highest ideal: to report the facts as he sees them, without regard for the consequences or controversy that may ensue.” — Walter Cronkite

When Nixon Ran for President

            I was a daily newspaper journalist for 37 years, and proud of it. I slipped in the back door of a small Texas Gulf Coast newspaper in 1967 and spent the next four years going from a darkroom flunky to the paper’s top reporter. That experience, in both my eyes and that of future employers, was worthy of any college degree.

 

I finally got the hang of reporting, but not sure about my watercoloring.

I subscribed to the ethics of truth and fair presentation of both sides of an issue to the degree that some of my colleagues labeled me the conscience of the newsroom. I believed it was my duty to report the goings on of the world, not to change it.

But before I gained this lofty attitude, I was a naïve, green-behind-the-ears woman who had spent the previous 11 years of her life-changing diapers and seeing the world through Pollyanna’s rose-colored classes, which led to me doing something that in some eyes today might be called Fake News.

It was a writing prompt – Write about something that most people don’t know about yourself – for the Writer2Writer online forum that I moderate, which revived the memory. And remembering horrified me, but also made me almost pee myself laughing.

Richard Nixon was running for president back then, and a rally for him was held in my home town of Lake Jackson, Texas. People turned out with tall vertical banners with Nixon’s name spelled from top to bottom. There were a lot of these look-alike signs, which I’m sure some supporter had made and handed out.

I was both reporter and photographer for the event, and would both write up the story and develop and print the picture to run with it when I got back to the office. Lo and behold, I was crushed when I saw the photograph I had taken. The prominent banner in the picture had been put together upside down. Instead of NIXON, it read NOXIN.

A few years later in my career, I would have been delighted to have caught such a boo-boo, and have it published, too. But back then, I felt as if it was my personal mistake for not taking a better photograph. So, I printed the picture, cut the sign out, turned it right side up, and pasted it back on. And that’s the version that ran in the newspaper. I never told anyone this story until now.

Some years later, in the late 1970s, when I was a reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and after Nixon had resigned, the former president made a public appearance at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. I covered that story, and the piece I wrote ran above the fold in the newspaper. Thankfully, the paper sent a photographer along with me for the story.

Bean Pat: The promise of fall https://maccandace.wordpress.com/2018/08/26/the-promise-of-fall/?wref=pil

Now available on Amazon

 

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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