(Garden Grove, California)
I continue working in Southern California this week. Like just about everyone else, I am looking for ways to give thanks this year. It’s been a trying and difficult year of unemployment, illness, high hopes, low results, thrilling campaigns, exciting news, disappointing outcomes, but optimism - always optimism! I’m here, maybe a bit worse for wear, but - thank God - I’m still here.
Which brings me to that young lady at the top of this blog. Her name is Kyleigh Maura Fifield, and she’s just two days old. Her dad Paul is a good friend of mine and the man to whom I owe much of my success in 2008.
You see, Kyleigh’s dad didn’t just help conceive her this year; he also conceived this blog. I barely knew him, but we were thrown together to cover the Iowa Caucuses in early January. We clicked like Huntley-Brinkley, Rowan and Martin, and maybe even a little Abbot and Costello. It was at times a brilliant, hardworking and even funny collaboration. (The Secret Service threatened to arrest us at a Hillary Clinton rally in Iowa, just because we wanted to videotape her and Bill in a garage).
At one in the morning on January 3, after a grueling eighteen-hour day at the Iowa Caucuses, with a wake-up call in just five hours, I said, “Hey Come by my hotel room and have a glass a wine for a nightcap!” To my horror, Paul said, “OK, we can build you a blog at the same time!”
I had no idea what he was talking about. A BLOG???? What on earth was THAT?
A bottle of wine and two hours later, I was a “blogger!” I've never looked back. Paul taught me how to upload stories, pictures and videos. I learned how to link all my material through Facebook and You Tube. I was the new baby of “new media.”
Mind you, I had heard all of this “new media” talk, but I dismissed most of it as hot air on the internet. Eleven months later I am a devotee and a convert, and will never look back. The nation’s media landscape took a beating this year. Major TV companies are trading for less than a dollar a share on Wall Street. Major newspapers and chains are selling out or shutting down. They are dinosaurs.
They are clinging to the past and dying. I am embracing the future and hope it saves my career and the careers of a lot of other high-quality journalists. People who really care about the news, care about how you get your news. That “dead fish” in the driveway known as the daily newspaper is history. Local TV ratings are slumping too. Unless traditional media outlets get with the program and make their online content exciting and relevant, they will fade, too.
I say this because there is a rebirth of journalism in America. It is reporting, in many cases, by ordinary people putting news that matters to themselves and to others in a forum that is accessible and democratic. It’s not “news from on high.” It’s news from people to people, on issues that matter. Whether you voted for him or not, Barack Obama will go down in history as the first national politician to embrace and understand how this works, to the point that it made a significant difference in the outcome of his campaign.
I get it, too! The most important campaign trip I made this year was to the Texas primary in March with my 16-year-old daughter Alexandra, an aspiring journalist who is also wired into how “new media” works. I was seeing the future through my own child. The lesson stuck!
So, to Paul Fifield, a hard-working media professional and a deeply religious family man: You helped me launch a new career this year; you helped me see my own future through the eyes of my own daughter; and you helped me realize life isn’t over at 48, when hard times arrive.
God Bless you, Paul, and may you one day have an epiphany with Kyleigh like the one I had with my own daughter! It is life changing!
Please feel free to post your Thanksgiving thoughts on what you are thankful for. Just click on “comments” at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.