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Blogging, Circa 1968

I blog, therefore I am.

Or maybe it was that, before today, I didn't blog. Therefore I wasn't.

For the last few years, I've been happily cramming my thoughts into an 18.6 inch column of newsprint, oblivious to the unconfined, perpetual, free-flowing, interactive nature of this new medium. Now, I feel a little like one of those pathetic prisoners sprung after four decades behind bars. Blinking from the sun. Hesitant. Just an anachronistic old print guy, unsure how to handle all this new-found freedom.

I'll try to be a bit more responsible than when I graduated from a military prep school (Castle Heights Military Academy, Class of 1965). Mostly, I translated freedom as something to do with drinking beer and chasing girls.

But a blog, circa 2008, affords a kind of intimacy between a writer and a community, even a community of six million South Floridians, not unlike my first newspaper job. In 1968, a reporter for a small daily newspaper in the Mississippi Delta covered everything. No choice. I write high school sports, county government, elections, murders, fires, automobile crashes, graduations, floods, tornadoes, local business, drug busts, weddings, trials, civil rights, funerals.

I worked all morning writing stories for an afternoon edition, then walked the gauntlet past the storefronts on my way to buy a cup of coffee. Everyone along the sidewalk had something to say about my stories. The interaction, in those days, was street level. I got hell. I got adulation. I got opinions. Man, did I ever get opinions. Store owners, customers, farmers, cops. Everyone had something to say. The reader opinions - as they would say 40 years later - came in real time.

Writing for a small town newspaper, knocking out one little story after another, every day, writing about everything that moved, I was utterly intertwined in the life of the community. And the community wasn't shy about telling me I didn't know what the hell I was talking about. I was blogging. I just didn't know it yet.    

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