I am often critical of journalists. That’s because my father was a journalist and journalism educator, and I heard a lot from him while I was growing up how real journalists ought to approach the skills and ethics of their profession
Several years ago, I accepted a posthumously awarded press association award on behalf of my father, Laurence R. Campbell (1903-1987). Standing up there in front of a room full of veteran student publications advisers, a few of whom were once my father’s students, I wondered how a writer who didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps could possibly connect with the audience.
All I knew to say was: “I worked as a college journalism instructor and student publications adviser for three years. I have to tell you that I felt like I was on a runaway horse.”
They knew what I meant. My father spent his life training others to be real journalists. He wrote hundreds of trade publication articles, ran summer journalism institutes and authored or co-authored numerous textbooks. The advisers attending that Florida scholastic Press Association convention in Tampa knew these books better than I even though I was there when Dad wrote them. I think, though, that I connected with the luncheon audience that day because, while I was an outsider, I cared a great deal about the profession.
With my novel Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire coming out this summer from Vanilla Heart Publishing, I’m still an outsider looking into a world my father knew so well. My novel is a thriller with a lot of satire and comedy in it. To some extent, I’m satirizing the journalism profession and to some extent, I’m satirizing some of the pretentious people who make the news.
If I didn’t care, I couldn’t write the satire. I’m not a real journalist, but I know what one looks like and how he or she ought to act. For me, it was a real hoot poking fun at those who don’t live up to my expectations. I think my father would understand.
Copyright (c) 2009 by Malcolm R. Campbell