Learning is just part of the job

December 02, 2002|by BILL KOHLER

When I turned 25, my father and others warned me that the years would start to fly by and before I knew it I would be 30, 35, 40 and (gasp) 50.

Well, I'm still on the good side of 35 and feel like I'm in my 20s most days. However, Dad was right about this year. It flew by faster than Tony Stewart around a racetrack.

However, it was not so mind-numbingly fast that I didn't learn a few things about myself, my profession, my hometown, teamwork and the world around us.

It's never too late to learn, so join me, won't you?

Serious business

Journalism is a powerful estate, resting on the foundations of truth, accuracy and fairness.

And with that power comes an awesome responsibility. I knew this all along, but I learned in my first year at The Herald-Mail how important it is to not only believe in these foundations but to act on them.


Our editors are solid journalists with experience and knowledge of when to push for a story and when to hold it one more day to make it better or make it more rock-solid, accurate and fair to all parties, especially the readers.

Listen first, talk later

The best editors are the ones who listen first - to reporters, other editors and readers.

As my mother and wife would attest, this has never been one of my finer qualities. It's my observation that many men have this problem of not listening as well as they should and sometimes we leap over the edge before we know why or where we're leaping.

I've learned that listening before talking is something we all could do a little more of.

Democracy works

America is a great country because of its freedoms and democracy. The country is not perfect, but it's still pretty darn good.

This was in clear evidence on Election Day when voters made a stance in several races affecting incumbents in Washington County and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.

I also learned this year that I respect (not necessarily like) anyone who makes the effort to run for public office. This is generally a thankless job that takes people away from their families and career - all for serving their community in most cases.

Going home again

After nearly a decade away from the area, I learned you can go home again.

The area has seen changes during the 1990s - some good, some bad. I don't like that more young people aren't involved in local government and volunteer work, that my town didn't open its pool during the hottest summer in eons, that my taxes and sewer rates are going up and that I have to travel 12 to 15 miles to do any major shopping.

However, I'm looking on the bright side, listening to (and hoping for) ways things may get better and trying to do my part to lend a hand where needed.

Most importantly, I've learned patience is always a good partner in everything we do.

Bill Kohler is Tri-State editor at The Herald-Mail. You can reach him at 301-733-5131, extension 2023, or by e-mail at

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