Thomaston boy carries torch for future of sports journalism

By Ken Waltz | Oct 07, 2010
Photo by: Ken Waltz Thomaston Grammar School eighth-grader Jimmy Strong has aspirations of being a sports reporter. But, for now, the youngster is content with making news by playing sports, such as soccer, for the Clippers. See him in action in the photo below.

The future of sports journalism is alive and well and it lives in the growing passion of a young boy from Thomaston.

On Sept. 22, I had the pleasure and privilege of seeing the future of my business as I looked into the face — and listened to the confident voice — of a young man who reminded me of myself more than 35 years ago.

I was invited, by Thomaston Grammar School eighth-grade teacher Ainslee Riley, to be involved in interviews by students of those who work in careers the youngsters had interest. The unit, entitled Community, had students explore roles in communities, from the Stone Age to today. Students gathered information from research and their one-one-one interviews, all of which will be presented at a career fair at the school in November.

Community members from restaurant owners to physical therapists were professions represented, and one member of the media — me.

I am always excited to interact with children of all ages — thus the reason I have been in the local media business for nearly 30 years. But this time the shoe was on the other foot. I was the one being interviewed. It was strange but also fun.

Of course, it helped that the person interviewing me — eighth-grader Jimmy Strong — came prepared, as all good journalists should. He had his questions written down, he was organized and he was thorough. He asked follow-up questions and listened intently and feverishly wrote my answers. I could immediately see Strong possessed many of the important traits of a topnotch journalist.

It is obvious the passion for writing is in this young man's blood. It was obvious he understood his subject matter. He was like a sponge, ready to soak up any and all information presented so he could write the best possible story from the interview. That impressed me.

While Strong may, in many ways, be a typical American junior high school student, his wonderful personality and ability to communicate goes well beyond his age. He loves all sports and excels in soccer, baseball and basketball. And he loves to write.

Just stating that last part makes a tear well up in my eye because decades ago I was that young boy who read every book about people, adventure and history I could get my hands on. And I loved to write, to tell stories, to soak up every bit of information possible. To be informed. How many other grammar school children do you know that read the newspaper every day? Talk about old-school.

Of course, Strong's future media world will be much different than the one I entered just a few days after Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing presses in 1445. Well, I'm not that old, but suffice to say that I started my career using a manual typewriter (I know, what is that?) and now can write a story and post my photos so the entire world can see them with just a click of a button.

Strong will grow up in an era of instant information, some good, some bad. But information none the less. So, for those willing to learn and the ability to filter the good from the bad, there is information everywhere at one's fingertips. In many ways, we live in an era of information overload.

Strong will grow up in a world of the Internet, Ipads, Ipods, texting, laptops, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Information in many forms, including video, audio and written, will flow from electronic devices, radios, televisions, magazines and, perhaps even newspapers, when this wonderful, intelligent young man enters the media world 10 years from now. He will be dazzled daily with new ways to fill our brains with important and, sometimes, useless information.

But, while information is easily accessible and the way we obtain and redirect it has changed dramatically in my three decades in the media business, one thing will never go out of style, the need for people, like Jimmy Strong, to have a passion for collecting the right information and presenting it to people in a unique, factual, fair and entertaining way.

I have faith that young people like Jimmy will someday uphold the torch carried by me and others in the ever-changing world of multi-media.

Good luck, Jimmy. I hope I'm around to read your first published story — no matter how it is delivered to me.

Village NetMedia Regional Editor/Sports Director Ken Waltz can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at kwaltz@villagesoup.com.

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