With calendar year 2016 coming to an end at midnight Saturday, the usual attempt to look back at the previous 12 months is a mixture of grief, gratitude, anger, happiness and relief.
Amy and I felt the pain of loss of too many people in 2016, including some she or I have known over the years, with sadness. Debbbie Reynolds died the day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, succumbed from a massive heart attack. This was the year that began with the death of Glenn Frey, co-founder of The Eagles. I had the pleasure of photographing and interviewing him when the band performed at The Mississippi River Festival in the 1970s.
For many, the approach of 2017 brings anxiety. As I see ministers, both local and around the nation and world, forecasting the latest rounds of predictions of a their various versions of a “judgment day,” I wonder how they will handle their explanations when it doesn’t arrive in the coming year.
Several of us who try to report news of the day without partisanship also wonder is another form of judgment day is coming: One where the public at large depends on social media gossip and both heavily partisan or fake media platforms promoting news couched in hidden agendas and factless aims as attempts of objective news reporting fades into a drap sunset.
Some hope might be found in news that The Washington Post, now owned by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, is expanding its staff of reporters at a time when most newspapers are shrinking their newsrooms. The media company that now pays me each month for contract reporting and photographer is owned by billionaire Warren Buffett, who has gone against the grain and purchased newspapers and says he believes in the future of print journalism.
Buffett owns many newspapers around the country, including The Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Roanoke Times, the Charlottesville Daily Progress, the Lynchburg News & Advance. the Bristol Herald-Courier and The Floyd Press, among other papers in Virginia and North Carolina.
I started my newspaper career more than 50 years ago with The Floyd Press and The Roanoke Times and it looks like I will finish whatever days I have left as a newsman writing news stories and providing news and sports photos for those papers along with web news for other outlets.
As each of the 50+ years faced over my life, I have wondered what challenges a 12-month term brings in an evolving world.
I finish off 2016 photographing some of the New Year’s festivities in and around Floyd Saturday night for The Floyd press.
The new year starts Sunday with an annual motorcycle ride down to Roanoke for the Happy Hangover Ride of the Roanoke Valley Harley Owners Group. Many of us who participate in the annual ride are recovering alcoholics and our happy hangovers are the lack of having one.
Sunday also is the launch of American NewsREAL, a new media web site that focuses on the glut of “fake news sites” on the Internet and their effect on public opinion, elections and more.
My newspaper work week starts Tuesday with coverage of Circuit Court, covering the sentencing of a former Lowe’s hardware employee from Harrisonburg who seduced a 16-year-old Floyd County High School girl to pose naked for a webcam and perform solo sexual acts in front of the lens before agreeing to to meet him for more sexual activity.
Fortunately, her friend told the county school resource officer about the planned hookup and he now awaits prison time from a judge who doesn’t take such things lightly.
After trips to holiday tournaments over the Christmas holidays, both the Buffaloes and the Lady Buffs varsity and junior varsity basketball teams return to the home court this week with the ladies facing Blacksburg on Wednesday evening and the guys up against Radford on Thursday.
Happy New Year from Amy and I and Blue Ridge Muse. Together, we will see and experience what the new year will bring.