As visitors enjoyed food and drink at the T-G's offices Tuesday in observance of National Newspaper Week, I was struck by the changes -- and what's stayed the same -- during my years in journalism.
We've come a long way in a relatively short time.
When I started in the 1970s we wrote stories on typewriters which were then retyped by typesetters. We made photos on film, then developed the film. Talk about anticipation: On photos connected with big stories we wondered, "Did we get the shot?" until we could actually see the results.
Today we write directly into computers. Our photos are digital, meaning instant gratification or irritation as soon as we shoot.
And we have the Internet. I never expected in those days that we'd have an "electronic edition."
With the Web, anyone can publish whatever they want. You don't have to own a press. And that's the beauty of progress and today's technology. Everyone has a voice, something that often wasn't true just a few years ago.
But sometimes I think too many of us in journalism, myself included at times, forget that what we do is all about people.
Every October we host the Chamber of Commerce's coffee hour as our way of thanking the community and giving ourselves two fringe benefits: Meeting those we cover and serve throughout the year, and feeding ourselves. (We like to eat at the T-G. There are no leftovers.)
The noisy buzz in our front office is one of those things that's stayed the same. For at least one hour out of the year, the people come to us. And we hear them.
We write about political ideologies, new technologies and constant challenges. But all of us should remember that it's all about serving people.
It's concerned me over the years that my feelings toward journalism have changed somewhat.
I love covering breaking news as much as ever. The newspaper design and editing process, which attracts me more than any other aspect, continues to fascinate me.
But in my earliest years, working here during high school, it was the smell of ink which reminded me that, yeah, I worked for a newspaper!
As soon as I entered the building I smelled ink. Fresh paper. An odor-filled photo darkroom.
The sights and smells of a newspaper.
A few years ago I realized the smell was gone, along with the darkroom. The enthusiasm's still here but something just doesn't seem the same. Has youthful excitement morphed into something I'm so used to that I don't think about it anymore?
Journalism seems to be moving toward the Internet, especially as more younger people gravitate toward electronic news that can be read anywhere as compared to the delivery and time limitations of traditional print newspapers.
There go those smells of ink and paper.
I wonder how many people under 30 who don't subscribe to a newspaper now ever will. I expect in my lifetime our web "circulation" will surpass our print coverage.
One thing's the same, though.
It's all about people...all about you.
To those of you who attend our coffee hours, support us through the years with your story contributions, subscription payments, single copy purchases, Web site comments and views, or even just a few words of thanks or pats on the backs, we appreciate it.
It's you who keep us going. And you who we're here for.
Never let us forget that.
And, thinking about it, your support revives my excitement about journalism. Thank you.
David Melson welcomes e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .