Sunday, July 24, 2011

Back at writing newspaper columns - and teaching soon, too

WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - An hour ago I finished a first draft of my second column for the Finger Lakes Times, the daily newspaper in Geneva that asked me several weeks ago to pen a weekly column for their editorial page - on anything I wanted to write about.

Jaysus, a dream come true. I've said for years the only thing that could ever lure me back to work for a daily newspaper was getting to write a column.

Be careful what you wish for, right?

Oh, did I forget to mention that they are paying me for this? Not much (we are talking journalism and newspapers here) but enough to make it worthwhile to have trouble sleeping when a column idea starts crawling around in my head.

My first column, published last Friday, was an introduction of sorts, though I was able to get myself into the spotlight and add some words about why I think community journalism - what the Finger Lake Times practices - is soooooo important to democracy.

And this week's column is about some people involved in decision-making in a local government who are not all that keen on participatory democracy.

In fact, at their most recent meeting, they told the audience that one topic - a proposed major propane storage project and potential environmental nightmare - was not up for discussion, nor would questions be allowed. And that's even though the group might be voting on whether to approve it in the next few months


Imagine the fun I am having with that in my column.

It will be interesting this fall teaching column writing again at CSU, Sacramento, where I will be able to offer real-time experience. Perhaps in my Monday class, I'll have the students look over my shoulder for a column or two.

It will be good for them to see their professor sweating on deadline, too.