Inkspots: Welcoming insight from a new generation
by By RICK NORTON Associate Editor
Mar 10, 2013 | 458 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.”

— Douglas MacArthur

U.S. general, World War II



Picking up today with last week’s train of thought, we’re adding a few young choo-choos to our little engine that could.

In newspaper lingo, that means I’ve recruited three new columnists for our Editorial Page. You’ll know their names because of their front-page bylines. You might know their faces if your paths have crossed at the Courthouse, City Hall, any of our area schools or just about wherever their news beats send these youthful, and talented, staff writers.

When I say youthful, let’s be explicit. On a newspaper scale of agrarian extremes, if they’re the young hatchlings aiming to one day fly, I’m the old goat ambling slowly out to pasture.

But even old goats recognize the inevitability of time. That’s true in life and in journalism, whether it’s a news flash on the front page or a lighthearted opinion piece over on the Op-Ed.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve hosted a few meetings in my office with our Three Musketeers of modern journalism. I introduced them last week: Joyanna Weber, our county government and education reporter; Delaney Walker, our special assignments and education writer; and Christy Armstrong, a news beat, special assignments and business reporter.

Each has been invited to add “columnist” to her resume. Their newsroom priorities will remain news, business and features writing, but on a three-week rotation they’ll be submitting personal opinion pieces. On most weeks, we’ll publish them atop the Op-Ed Page in the Sunday edition unless other needs arise.

I’ve invited them to name their columns and to allow their creativity to run wild ... within reason. So far as I know, they’re still think-tanking the names and general themes for their opinion pieces. A couple have bounced ideas off me. I’m not into censorship — just accountability — so I’ve assured them the sky’s the limit.

Over the next few days we’ll likely be confirming our plans because the first up in the rotation is next Sunday. I’m uncertain which has accepted the role of guinea pig, but they’re excited so they’ll figure it out.

I’m not sure use of the term “guinea pig” is politically correct nor HR-approved, but they’re an eager bunch yearning to reach into readerland using all devices available — whether through news, features or opinion pieces, or anything that lies in the vast in between of community newspapering.

Given the flare for good writing these “youngsters” — they hate it when I use that term — have shown over the past few months, I believe Cleveland Daily Banner readers will enjoy their contributions. Actually, we whetted your appetite last week with a rare series of “Perspectives” published on the front page by Delaney who attended the Rape Aggression Defense course last week as a participant, not as a reporter.

Publishing such opinion pieces on Page One goes against the norm for most newspapers, but we thought it would be fun, which it was. Most importantly, it gave our female readers — and males too, for that matter — some unique reading.

As I occasionally preach to our newsroom staff in Lou Grant style — and yes, with my cuffs rolled up to mid-forearm — do not fear change.

Change is good.

Change is exhilarating.

Change keeps the creative juices flowing.

Change for the sake of change isn’t always a positive because it verges on fixing that which is not broken; but then again, sometimes a good fix keeps the fire alive, even if it’s still smouldering.

For loyal followers of existing columnists like Matt Ryerson, Cameron Fisher, Tim Passmore, Jim Davidson and Mayors Tom Rowland and D. Gary Davis, don’t fret. They’re staying. We’re just adding.

This “Inkspots” column will continue as well — sorry about that — and we’re looking at bringing a blast from the past. In my infant years at the Banner in the late 1970s and ’80s, before leaving to pursue a career in public relations, I wrote this same column. I was much younger, energetic and irritatingly brazen. I even had hair. That early version was also called “Inkspots.” Go figure.

A few of us — even our youngsters — thought pulling some of those oldies from the newspaper morgue, and reprinting them under the heading of “RetroSpots” on an occasional weekday, might be worth a laugh. Maybe not. We’ll let the people decide.

If folks like it, we’ll keep it. If you don’t, we won’t. And if you hate it, I’ll jump off a cliff in shame ... a shallow one.

So, watch for next Sunday’s column debut by one of our three youngsters.

And RetroSpots won’t be far behind ... unless you hate the idea already.