Why I Am a Storyteller… No Free Press (Part 1)

"The Storyteller" by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo

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.

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Michael Cheek

With more than 20 years of communication experience, Michael Cheek offers solid marketing expertise, especially in the digital frontier. He currently resides in Georgia but he's open to relocate anywhere the opportunities take him. Learn more at http://MichaelCheek.com. You can follow him on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/MichaelCheek and see more about his professional experience at http://LinkedIn.com/in/MichaelCheek. Reach him via e-mail at mcheek@gmail.com.

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