Cap J: A journalist’s life
I got this idea Saturday morning, hearing a story on my way to a meeting of educators, elected officials and others interested in education.
I’m an “other,” always an other unless at a meeting of other journalists. Then I’m generally bored. Well, that’s not quite true. The career is fascinating and our challenges worthy. But I’m not in it for the company of other journalists.
We’re cats, really. Curious. Solitary. Independent. Like to mark our territories as far and wide as we can. Can be a little competitive with others in our species. A lot of us don’t mind using our claws. Everything is a hunt, even when it’s not.
NPR has a story about a nun who blogs about life as a nun. She wanted to counter all those great stereotypes about nuns and their, um, habits. So she wrote. I thought that was pretty cool. I’m curious. And I’m interested in how people in all sorts of different fields think and live their lives, too.
Hey, it also seemed like a quick way to keep contributing to this Vail Daily blog. Write what you know, the first axiom for a writer. I just happen to have this great window seat on humanity as the editor of a little community daily in a community with the accumulated wealth of a Third World country, along with a community that could go that way, between the gated communities of mansions and the trailer parks stuffed with econmic refugees from the real Third World.
Today I got to sit in a session with mostly educators and school board folks, along with a few folks like me and some of Colorado’s luminary politicians: state Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff and U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, so far the only declared candidate for U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard’s seat in 2008. And our Summit, Lake and Eagle County representative in the state House, Dan Gibbs.
The session frustrated our education writer, Matt Terrell, for its lack of news. And it fascinated me for the wide-open discussion about what could be better about education in Colorado. Let’s put it this way. The session was a gold mine for a pundit and at the same time an empty hole for a reporter digging for a story in tomorrow’s paper. Such is the shading between the two.
For a reporter, this session was much better for ideas of stories about education than a story in itself.
For a citizen, parent or editor, this provided an all-too-rare chance to think aloud and compare thoughts with people who think seriously about education, have a range of experience with real insight, and to at least some extent have some ability to change things, or begin to change things.
Here are three questions tables discussed and summarized for the full group of 38-40 people, which should give you an idea about the discussion without going into it in detail. Hey, I’m sure I’ll get into that in some column, editorial or blog entry of the future.
Here they are; feel free to answer for yourself:
1. What are your hopes and reams for the education of our children?
2. What characteristics do you think an educational system needs? (Do not let budgetary factors limit your vision.)
3. What obstacles or barriers prevent this vision from being realized?
Answering these questions is among the first steps toward Colorado leaders developing a plan for improving public education in the state. Romanoff declared his goal of Colorado becoming the best in the world for education. No one doubted that we have an awful lot of work to do to get there.
And I thought some of my challenges in the newsroom were difficult. Another reason getting out of it can provide some real perspective.