I know this is kind of long for a blog, but I thought I'd share this column I wrote with you online folks.
I didn’t grow up in a newspaper family, but rather I grew up in a family that read newspapers.
What I mean by that is no one in my family had ever worked in newspapers before me. In fact, in my family, my generation was the first to speak English as a primary language. My uncle remembers his grade-school teachers sending notes home with him telling my grandparents to speak English at home so he could learn English and become a better student.
But, every person in my family loved or loves reading newspapers. I can trace that love of newspapers (and reading, really) directly back to my Mother, who was a connoisseur of all things words. The love of reading newspapers is a tradition I try to instill in my son still today.
First, a little history: In my hometown of Denver, two newspapers battled it out for supremacy. One, the Rocky Mountain News, a tabloid, was my family’s paper of choice. My Mother, God bless her soul, used to tell me she liked how easy the smaller paper was to read. To this day, I’m still biased toward the Rocky, as are my brothers, who still read that paper every day.
But there was conflict. You see, my first job was delivering the “other” paper, The Denver Post. The Post at that time was an afternoon paper. So I delivered it, on my bicycle, after school and still had time to do my other activities, such as playing sports and what not.
The two newspapers still exist today, albeit under a joint operating agreement. Their highly covered circulation battle in the late ’90s and early this decade almost destroyed them both. At one point, you could buy a year’s subscription for about $3. I had both papers delivered to my house for less than $7 for a year. Crazy!
As I said, growing up at my house in South Denver, the newspaper of choice was the Rocky Mountain News. My Mother, a single parent, would read it every day. I can remember reading a newspaper, literally, before I ever read books. I used to read the comics every day with my Mother. I was about 4.
In my house, if you didn’t play sports, you just didn’t fit in. I had three older brothers and an older sister who were top athletes. I was not only expected to play sports, but also to excel at them.
I tried to excel at sports, really, with some success, but I also read about them -- in the newspaper. Of course, I remember pouring over the Rocky’s sports sections, learning everything I could about my beloved Broncos and Nuggets. Back then, Denver didn’t have a Major League Baseball team, but we had the lovable Denver Bears, a AAA team from the American Association. I couldn’t get enough information about the local teams.
I thought every 8-year-old kid read the sports section and memorized all the players’ and teams’ stats. Actually, my brother still kids me about memorizing those stats. Even today, he’ll ask me random questions, like who was the home run leader for the 1980 Denver Bears, one of the greatest minor league teams ever. (The answer is Randy Bass, who had 37 dingers and 143 RBI. Bass never made a splash in the Majors, but he did enjoy success playing in Japan.)
In 1977, Denver’s passion was the Broncos. And the newspaper couldn’t write enough about them. Of course, as a young reader, I couldn’t read enough about them, either. Even if they did lose Super Bowl XII 27-10 in early 1978 to the hated Dallas Cowboys!
Eventually, my love of sports and newspapers merged when I was sports editor at two different newspapers. Fun stuff.
Of course, newspapers are about more than comics and sports.
I learned about the world, health, business, state and politics. (One of my first lessons in politics was when Denver/Colorado basically turned down the 1976 Winter Olympics over concerns about the environment and failure to pass a multi-million dollar bond. I think we are the only city/state EVER to turn down the Olympics.)
I never took debate class in high school, but I knew what good debate was because I read the opinion page of the newspaper almost every day.
I wasn’t an arts and entertainment geek, but I stayed current on new bands and local clubs and Hollywood trends through my newspaper.
Yes, a newspaper is educational on so many levels.
One of my roommates in college thought I was crazy because I subscribed to three different papers -- and that I read them all. He thought the time I spent reading papers would be better spent, say, drinking beer and eating pizza -- or even going to class. Snoopy, Dear Abby and Ann Landers were too interesting to me for that other stuff to really matter.
So it wasn’t a big surprise to me, then, that my love of newspapers would eventually become a career for me. I started in the business at my college newspaper and never looked back.
Here, now in Victoria, I am part of a great team of journalists and other dedicated professionals who are committed to bringing you the best product every day. We tell the stories -- the tragedies, the heroics, the ordinary -- that make up our community. We care about our community, and we work tirelessly to make it better through our newspaper.
Eevery day, we get to start with a blank canvas and do it all again. That’s one of the many things I love about newspapers.
And somewhere up there my Mother is smiling down on me -- with the latest newspaper in her hand.
Thank you for your contribution.Flag this as inappropriate
- Follow ThomasRMartinez