In the world of media, one of the most sought-after jobs is
I've been a newspaper columnist before, at two different
papers - The Signal and Our Times, the SCV edition of the L.A. Times Community
I was a columnist of sorts in the Daily News' attempt at
citizen journalism, valleynews.com, when I wrote a regular opinion piece, along
with anyone else willing to bang on their home keyboards.
Columnists used to be the ones at the top of the food chain
- those who got to opine about politics, entertainment, local affairs or
society without regard to press style books or other restrictive guidelines.
They didn't have to cover car wrecks, go to rubber chicken dinners or type
agate sports scores when the usual suspects were hung over.
We've all heard about the demise of print journalism (and
two of the three newspapers Santa Clarita editions mentioned above are long
gone) and columnists are now part of the daily lists of "buyouts" or laid off
employees we read about in media news.
Even Al Martinez, one of the greatest human beings to plunk
out words that wrench emotions from readers' hearts and minds, was let go by
the L.A. Times this week.
Fortunately, there's the internet. So now, instead of
counting our wordsmithing in column inches, we get space on the world wide web.
Today we're called bloggers.
I experimented with a blog the year before my daughter's
wedding. I called it "M.O.B. Mentality" (as in Mother Of the Bride) and it had
a small following among friends and family, who e-mailed me on a regular basis
for directions to the website.
Likewise, the "column" in valleynews.com was really a blog,
but with some guidelines. It wasn't much fun because it was pretty much filler
to make up for the "citizen journalists" (a phrase that still makes my flesh
crawl) who couldn't be bothered to write more.
Bloggers have lots of freedom. They can shoot from the hip,
fearless of retribution, saying - sometimes irresponsibly - things that are so
far from the truth it just makes you say "huh?" Blog readers have to accept
what they read with a grain of salt.
But to their credit, bloggers make you think, which is good.
My dear friend Randy Wicks, an editorial cartoonist who left
this world far too soon, used to chortle when someone would rail at an opinion
that he put into pictures. He may not have agreed with their opinion, but he
cherished the fact that someone took the time to express it. I have chosen to
carry on that passion. This is still a country where you can say what you think
and we don't have to agree to get along.
Having spent the last 17 years as a journalist, (and since I
do make my living as a news director at KHTS), I think I've got the perfect
job. I get to tell the story first, I get to dig around for information and
enjoy explaining things to people eager to know.
But I have to admit I've missed shooting from the hip - albeit
with a safety on my gun. I do embrace ethics and read what I've written several
times before hitting the "send" button.
Today, I'm loading up for another ride and we're gonna have
Some of you may remember the last "Rockbottom" column that
appeared in 1999 in The Mighty Signal. Back in the day, I used to sit across
from John Boston and try to write things that didn't offend Palmdalians and
made nice with lots of community volunteers who were regulars in his annual
"Buck Naked Parade" columns. It was a blast.
Thanks to Signal publisher Ian Lamont, I got permission to
reclaim my old column name today and am happy to announce that "Rockbottom"
will now be a regular feature on hometownstation.com. Ian was nice enough to
extend an invitation to drop an occasional column their way, something I might
take him up on after I get comfortable again.
But I'm glad to be back in the saddle. I look forward to
sharing with you my take on life in the Santa Clarita Valley and welcome your
It feels good already...
Carol wants to hear from you! Send your comments to email@example.com.