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|Just a newspaperman...|
Alexander Graham Bell once quipped that America is a land of great inventors and the greatest inventors of all are its newspapermen.
While it might be easy to concede the Father of Modern Communication's point, I take exception with Graham referring to the yellow journalist of his day as "newspapermen."
While all newspapermen - and newspaperwomen - are journalists, not all journalists are newspapermen.
Journalists come in all sorts. Some are good and some are bad - think Jayson Blair. The former New York Times reporter received accolades for heart-wrenching narratives about wounded Operation Iraqi Freedom soldiers and family members of the Washington, D.C.
sniper before it was discovered he either made them up from whole cloth or lifted parts from other reporters' stories. Blair was never a newspaperman, and he's no longer a journalist. There are bad journalists, but only good newspapermen.
I can write with authority about newspapermen because I have known a few, the first being my grandfather, R.T. Bonnette. Granddaddy worked for this newspaper's sister-paper, the Concordia Sentinel, for 30-plus years. One of the last times I saw Mr. Sam Hanna Sr., late publisher and owner of The Franklin Sun, Concordia Sentinel and The Ouachita Citizen was at a Ferriday Town Council meeting I was covering for The Natchez Democrat. On the way out, Mr. Hanna stopped me to tell me my granddaddy, who never lived to see me become a reporter, would have been proud of me. I told Mr. Hanna I wished granddaddy were still around to help me out. I'll never forget the way Mr. Hanna looked at me before getting into his car as he simply said, "He was a rare man." If brevity is the soul of wit, as Shakespeare attested, Mr. Hanna being able to sum up my granddaddy in five words better than I could have in five paragraphs is the reason he was a better writer than I perhaps ever will be.
Granddaddy was indeed a rare man, and real newspapermen are getting harder to find in this brave new world where attention spans are often as quick as an Internet click in the blogosphere. It's been my experence, however, that they are most often found working for community newspapers like The Franklin Sun. That's why I was happy to sign on when Sam Hanna Jr., called me to offer me a job here.
I'll work hard to learn Winnsboro and its surrounding community and promise to do my best to be a newspaperman. I'll leave the journalism for the Jayson Blairs of the world and the inventing for today's Alexander Graham Bells.
Tom Bonnette, writer for The Franklin Sun