Back on the beat

Portsmouth Daily Times

January 3, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

It is not common practice for me to start the year with a vow. But here it comes. I will never take 11 straight days off again. I am trying to get back into the swing of things after staying home for nearly two weeks. And that is not easy. I ate too much. I watched way too many movies. I dozed in my recliner too many times. And I never once thought about my job.

Now I have to reacclimate myself to the daily duties of chasing down news stories and news makers and writing stories.

No one should ever take more than four or five days in a row off. I was not prepared to return to the routine, but return I must.

Now I want to talk about this past year and the year ahead. I have the best job in America. I get to deal with important people about important topics. These people actually do give me the time of day. They actually give me the information I need, and they allow me to impart that information to you, our reader.

On a daily basis I deal with everyone from local law enforcement to U.S. Senators. I am extremely pleased that they all at least appear to be open to questions, and most give me completely honest answers, so that you, the reader, can be informed and draw your own conclusions as to how you feel about certain issues or legal cases.

I am blessed to work for a company that allows me to pursue the truth at any cost. I am proud of the fact that I have never, and I repeat, never been told not to work a story because someone is well-known in the community, powerful or influential. I have never been told not to work a story because someone buys advertising from our newspaper. I have never been told that anyone or anything is off-limits.

I am fully aware that there are people out there who play on the internet and create perceptions in their minds which they share with others, and those perceptions become truth to them, but I am pleased to announce that I read none of these websites. I don’t read blogs. I don’t read Facebook. I have no contact with entities that are not bound, like we are, to write the truth.

The fact is, neither I nor the company I work for, have an agenda. We’re not interested in putting someone in power or dropping someone from power. We are not interested in making someone look bad or making someone look good. That is not what we do. We lay it out there and allow you to decide how you feel about the subject or the person.

Now, I want to make a quick observation about my plans for the coming year. There are several things I want to change in my life. I spend far too little time getting involved in programs that help people in need. In the coming year I want to devote more of my time to that. I want to study my bible more this year than last, though I devote time to that every day. It never seems to be enough time. I am about five books behind. I have them stacked at home, and have read the opening chapter of about all of them, but find myself not having enough time to really commit to one book at a time. My son Michael bought me “No Easy Day,” by Mark Owen (not his real name), for Christmas. That one is now on the bottom of a stack that includes, “Arrogance,” by Bernard Goldberg; “The Triple Agent,” by Joby Warrick, and several others.

I teach a bible class every week at New Life Family Worship Center, and have, at last count, written well over 700 lessons strictly from the bible. I want to improve my format and hopefully make those lessons more interesting. I also would like to assemble them in some book form. That is truly my first love when it comes to things that occupy my life.

Right behind my bible studies is my job. I want to get better at it in the year ahead. I want to keep you, the reader, more involved in the stories, and more informed about what is and what is not going on.

As I said, I am blessed with the best job in America, and love going to work every day. But please, don’t ever let me take 11 days off again. I love writing too much to be away from it that long.

I leave you with a quote from my favorite newspaper writer of all time, Jimmy Breslin:

“A job on a newspaper is a special thing. Every day you take something tht you found out about, and you put it down and in a matter of hours it becomes a product. Not just a product like a can or something.”

Breslin was some strange dude.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@heartlandpublications.com