More than 20 years ago, I was working as a newspaper reporter for a small daily newspaper called The Record Herald in my hometown of Waynesboro, PA. I covered all kinds of local news, from the municipal government, the county fair, vehicle accidents, fires and people who had grown enormous tomatoes in their backyard gardens.
I remember commenting to a coworker, who like me was a cub reporter just out of college, that I didn’t consider what I was doing as selling newspapers.He disagreed with me, but I always felt strongly that reporting the news was a service to the public. It was important to tell them what was going on in their community. And I did that at small daily and weekly newspapers in Central Pennsylvania, which regrettably are now either closed or hanging on by a thread.
A few years after that conversation, I found myself working in the press offices for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and then the Department of Education. As I promoted environmental and education issues, and wrote news releases and talked to reporters, it suddenly dawned on me that I was still performing a public service. Agree or disagree with the politics of state government, I was working on issues that mattered, that had a direct impact on people. They were about the air you breathe and what students were learning in a classroom. I got a tremendous amount of professional and personal fulfillment knowing that what I did, in some small way, had an impact on the larger world.
I still do, 15 years later. I have worked for an affordable housing provider and most recently had the Pennsylvania eHealth Partnership Authority as a client. Housing and healthcare are crucial issues that affect people in their day-to-day lives. When I can plan and execute communications for organizations such as these, and make connections with and for their stakeholders and audiences, I know my work has an impact on society as a whole.
And that is important for this former newspaper reporter, who is still looking to serve the community through his professional work.