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A welcome home journey

April 28, 2013
Weirton Daily Times

It was good to be missed, but it's even better to be back home.

The factors that led me to leave in September of 2011 after nearly 28 years in the Herald-Star newsroom were both a lot and very singular: They were mostly in my mind, which needed to be cleared.

Back in the summer of 2011, I had developed a strong aversion to this "whole new world" thing regarding journalism in the age of Twitter and Facebook. It felt like the job was passing me by.

But after 19 months of not writing, and that little voice saying "this is a sabbatical" getting louder, I found perspective.

What hit me hardest was that annoying commercial that says 1.4 billion people with cellphone cameras are journalists.

They're not.

And those of us who learned in the pre-digital era might just have a role to play in explaining why the rules existed.

And so, Alex Marshall, The Publisher, who was good enough to let me go find myself and good enough to bring me back when I needed to come home, and Ross Gallabrese, The Boss (at work) came up with a great plan for me.

I'm back in the print production end of the newsroom, on the copy desk. I'm also online as a blogger and maybe a reporter. Turns out, digital is nothing to fear.

I really hated it a few years back at some conference at the Franciscan University of Steubenville when I first heard the words "dead-tree journalism" referring to printed newspapers.

The perspective of time away gave form to my objection: The word "dead."

Yes, even on recycled newsprint, somewhere a tree died for the printed word. But "journalism" with the spirit of a newspaper is not dead in its digital form. It must thrive, and it still must continue to be based in fact, careful not to assume, careful to print what can be proven instead of what we "all know." It must continue to attract you, or the words are worthless. None of that is "dead."

To thrive, newspapers must embrace the 24-hour news cycle, with constant updates, smartphone apps (the Herald-Star's is available in the Apple App store and the Google Play marketplace), and yes, Twitter and Facebook and heaven knows what will take their place in a few years. Perspective and depth still have to be what makes the spirit of newspapering thrive, digital or high fiber in format.

So, yes, I now write four or five days a week on www.heraldstaronline.com. I use Twitter and Facebook to tell folks when Pablog is ready for them to read. And when the news strikes me, I will Tweet. Follow me at @PGiannamoreHS.

And the third leg of this welcome home journey is that Ross and I soon will embark on a new endeavor: a weekly video weblog.

"Ohio Valley This Week" will feature Ross and me going through a review of the week's news, a look ahead at the coming week's news and interviews with a newsmaker. Perhaps you might see a glimpse or two of the process we go through in making decisions about what is the content for our local news, why we think it's important for you, as well as how we cover it. Ross and I might just debate once in awhile online (though he sits in the editor's office behind the desk and thus always wins). And the program will evolve, too, just as all the world does, especially a high-speed digital world.

The plan for now is for the weekly video to be posted online on our website every Saturday. It will debut in May, and we'll let you know the exact date for the first post.

Newspapers aren't dead. Like matter and energy, they are changing from form to form.

(Giannamore may be followed on Twitter under the username @PGiannamoreHS. His blog, Pablog, is online at www.heraldstaronline.com. Giannamore has been part of the local media since 1981 and joined the Herald-Star in 1985.)

 
 

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