Larry Banman – It gets in your blood
March 8, 2010
We use the phrase, “It’s in my blood” for a variety of reasons. I was unable, however, to find a definitive explanation for its origin.
Its use has become so extensive and its definition so broad that it is often attributed to that great philosopher, Anon Ymous.
Having something “in your” blood is often used to explain a passion or love for an occupation, vocation or hobby. “I have to go fishing, it’s in my blood.” An activity that cannot be controlled is often explained by saying something like, “I can’t help but fight, my father was Irish, it’s in my blood.”
That brings to mind the apparent connection to genetics because we often render statements like, “My family has driven trucks for five generations, driving is in our blood.” In early science fiction movies, ailments like werewolfism were transmitted through the exchange of blood. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn created an unbreakable bond by making their hands bleed and then clasping them together to mix their blood.
Using the literal interpretation of having something “in your blood” we can find traces of things we may choose to ingest in our systems. Things like steroids, marijuana and alcohol. Even things we don’t voluntarily choose to ingest, like second-hand smoke, make their way into our bloodstreams.
Using a metaphorical interpretation of having something in your blood, we also use the phrase to explain why we have chosen a particular career even though rational thought would suggest another path. Journalism, for me, fit that description perfectly.
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After college, I embarked on the “sampler” theory of finding a livelihood. I was on a regular three-year rotation of occupations when I literally stumbled into the field of journalism and discovered the world of deadlines, long hours and lousy food. I worked more holidays than I celebrated.
For most of my career, production day was on Monday so I lost my ability to truly relax on a Sunday.
The money was adequate but there is a reason you don’t hear the term “newspaper baron” any more. A newspaper owner once told me he was dirt poor until the day he sold his enterprise. I have also heard the statement that the best way to earn a small fortune in the newspaper business is to start with a large fortune.
Strangely, however, from the first time I stepped into a newspaper office and smelled the ink, I felt as though I had come home.
I was reminded of those feelings the other day when I walked into the Sky-Hi Daily News on a production day. Due to consolidation, industry realities, and improved technology, there weren’t as many people in the office as I remembered. It wasn’t quite like the days when I finished writing stories, put together pages when cutting and pasting was not a function on a computer, transformed those pages into large negatives, ran the printing press, labeled and bundled the newspapers and delivered them to the post office and newsstands.
There was, however, an unmistakable feeling in the air. The feeling of anticipation that comes with preparing something that would soon be on the breakfast tables, desks and in the hands of a public yearning to hear the latest news, pore over the latest advertisements and see what has transpired in the community they have chosen to call home. It is hard to describe how homesick I felt.
The press is often referred to as the Fourth Estate. According to Collegiate Journalism, the term comes from the idea of the three estates of the Ancient Regime. The First Estate is the clergy, the Second the Nobles and the Third the commoners. The Fourth Estate is responsible for advocating the needs of the other three estates, as well as framing the issues so that each estate can understand them.
In my opinion, community newspapers are the element of the modern press that most closely fills that role in society today. We are in a society on information overload. Thanks to the latest technology, news barely needs to be reported anymore. It can be watched live. What happens next, in my opinion is that what is reported becomes the interpretation of what happened. And that interpretation is delivered to us through a filter that is too often defined and designed by ideology or money.
One of the last bastions of objective journalism is the community newspaper and that, I believe, is why community newspapers are still scratching out a living while the landscape is littered with the remains of larger metropolitan publications.
The responsibility a newspaper has to its community is tremendous. It is one of those vocations that, I believe, has a bottom line defined by more than a balance sheet. It can still achieve what no other media has found a way to accomplish. Its mission is simple and yet very complicated: Keep a community informed so that logical and rational conclusions can be reached. I believe a community newspaper must also help its reader engage in evaluative and critical thinking.
I applaud the Grand County paper and other community papers for continuing to bear the torch. Community journalism is the kind of occupation that “gets in a person’s blood.” This past Tuesday, I found there were still trace elements in my own bloodstream.
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