The printer’s ink must flow

Dr. David L. Chancey's picture

Ronda Rich, the Southern author and columnist, recently wrote about small town newspapers. Her column reminded me of my early flirtation with a journalism career. I’ve always enjoyed reading the newspaper. Any newspaper from any city. Big or small. I especially appreciate the small town papers.

The small town paper is about people and events that are important to that specific locale. You read about your friends and neighbors. Who died that week, who had a baby, who got married.

When we moved from Atlanta to Milledgeville in 1966, I was amazed, even as a fourth grader, at The Union Recorder. My school buddies got their picture in the paper. They won a 4-H contest, or made the honor roll, or visited the local nursing home. Back then, the paper would run just about anything submitted.

Lawrence Welk serving as grand marshall in the Milledgeville Christmas parade made the front page. Paul Anderson, then the world’s strongest man, spoke at the YDC, and was news, also. Inside were pictures of Little League teams, beauty queens, and civic club speakers.

Somewhere along the way, I became interested in journalism. As a college freshman, I landed a staff writer position in the public relations office at Georgia College and started churning out features and news releases. My stuff started appearing in middle Georgia newspapers. I enjoyed the process of writing and being published.

Then I transferred to Georgia Southern University to major in journalism. Articles I wrote for class also appeared in the school paper, The George-Anne.

I made my professor proud when I submitted an article to Showcase, an upstart magazine that was publishing the work of student writers nationwide. The story was about a blind student who dressed in full Scottish attire and stood outside the student center and played his bagpipes every afternoon. I got an acceptance letter one week, and then two weeks later got a letter saying that Showcase was folding before it ever went to publication.

Lewis Grizzard was one of my heroes. The late humor columnist for the AJC was a rising star. As president of the journalism club, I called the AJC in fall, 1978, got Grizzard on the phone, and invited him to speak to our group. I knew he travelled in South Georgia once a year looking for column ideas, and asked him to swing by Statesboro.

He told me to call back in the spring. So I did. He picked up the phone, I reminded him of our previous conversation, and he said, “You’ll have to call my agent.”

I interned for the Statesboro Herald. I started out writing the weather report and obituaries. I eventually moved into harder news. I was assigned to write about a local Baptist preacher who was leading a protest against pornographic magazines being sold at local convenience stores. I interviewed him and wrote a strong story about his effort. It made the front page with my byline.

In the same issue, the paper’s anonymous columnist named “Ol’ Possum” wrote a piece poking fun at his crusade. I called back for a follow-up story and the pastor chewed me out for the Ol’ Possum piece that I had nothing to do with. In fact, he refused to be interviewed.

The paper offered me a job, but I moved on to other pursuits.

But I’m still writing. Not as often as I’d like, but I enjoy the process. It gets in one’s system, and, as one editor once told me, the printer’s ink must flow.

Dr. David L.Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville. The church family invites you to join them this Sunday for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them on the web at

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