I had a newspaper route when I was a kid, and it was magical. At 3:30 a.m., in the stillness of the predawn hours, sitting in a friend’s driveway, I had the news first. I never lost that feeling and have spent my working life chasing it and replicating it.
Communication – sharing something with someone – is the blood that courses through our human existence. The modes and means change, but the need to communicate has not. As a paperboy, I not only got to read the news first, but I got to be the one to first deliver it to others. I don’t look at what I do now, as a journalist, author, commentator, teacher and writer, as being much different.
Newspapers captivated me as a kid and the ink stains I got as a paperboy must have seeped into my bloodstream, because it’s been in newspapers that I have spent the bulk of my career. It is what I went to school to do, graduating from the University of Florida with a major in journalism and a minor in English.
My first byline appeared in 1978, in what was called TODAY newspaper, now Florida Today. Through the years I’ve worked for them, as well as for The Gainesville Sun, the Dallas Times Herald and the Los Angeles Daily News, with my byline also appearing in USA Today, the Orlando Sentinel, The Dallas Morning News and various other publications. Most of my newspaper work now is for The New York Times.
I have done one book, am finishing another, and have two more in the pipeline. I’ve also done extensive magazine work, from the now-defunct Sport magazine to various other periodicals. For the past two decades I’ve written regularly for Orlando magazine. In addition, I teach writing, as well as write for businesses and corporations.
When I’m not writing, I’m on the air. I’ve had a weekly radio show since the late ’90s on WMEL 1300-AM.
The award and honors have been there, and they have been gratifying and at times validating. But I think I speak for anyone who has ever had a newspaper byline, written a regular column, done magazine pieces and authored books, in saying that it’s the ability to communicate and communicate well that is most gratifying.