Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I avoided any claim at being a marketer.
In the infancy of my career, I aspired to be a journalist. I’d earned my bachelor’s degree in history with an emphasis in journalism, with the thought that journalism was nothing more than what occurred yesterday — recent history, in fact.
The rose-colored glasses of “freedom of the press” had been abruptly slapped off my face during the final weeks of college when an investigative report at the student newspaper (at which I was the editor) found the sports programs at the school enforced a kind of Christian indoctrination for student athletes, requiring church attendance at away games on Sundays and interrupting practices for Bible study. All this despite being a state school, which did not allow such.
On the eve of publishing our well-researched report, the school’s administration intervened and stopped it. In the pre-Internet days, students in the know would eventually discover the truth, but I got the first part in an education on the true nature of journalism.
Despite that, I got a job as a staff writer at a small daily newspaper in South Florida — away from major cities, but a great environment to learn my craft, or so I thought.
The first watershed moment had to be the first murder for which I would write a piece. A 13-year-old girl got high on Freon with 21-year-old HVAC tech, who would use metal shears to kill, snip her apart and rape her — in that order.
I would meticulously research what happened to the girl, but when I would get home, it dawned on me that a little girl would not be in middle school on Monday. I cried. It would not be the last time I cried.
A high school softball coach is arrested for molesting several members of his team. I went to interview his neighbors and ended up telling the coach’s mother and father their son was an accused sexual predator.
An elderly man dies in his backyard pool. A woman drives by and asks what all the commotion is and ends up it’s the man’s adult daughter.
I discover why the brain is called “gray matter” when a motorcyclist loses control and his helmet comes off… you fill in the rest.
Local synagogues are defaced with hateful messages and I’m immersed in a local skinhead recruiting movement, which somehow draws the ire of the Ku Klux Klan.
These are just a few of the stories for which I am the documentarian.
Many more sear into my memory in my early twenties that I cannot forget. These forge the beginning of me, my own story and the genesis that brings me to the brink.
But it would be the next story I tell that emotionally stunts me and starts me down a different path.
Read that in part two.