In 1983, I began working for a newspaper called the Florida Flambeau. It was run by Florida State students mostly but was not affiliated with the university and had established itself as a strong, independent, progressive voice in the Tallahassee community. I had never taken a journalism class (there was no J-school at FSU). I only knew how to write academic papers and had just finished my Master’s thesis.
The Flambeau opened my eyes to a whole new world. My mentors there — Michael Moline, Eileen Drennen, Curt Fields, Michael McClelland, Steve Watkins (to name just a few) — taught me to ask tough questions and write with clarity and punch. Most of all, I learned that journalism was always about seeking truth. Our motto was to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. We wrote about the world around us — the university, the legislature, executions, migrant workers. We wrote about music and film that was edgy and off the mainstream radar and published a great entertainment section called At Week’s End.
This past weekend, some of us Flambeau alums attended a reunion in Tallahassee. Though we had our differences, though we screamed at each other, we have a bond that no one can ever take away.
We had more wrinkles and gray hair. Some of us were even grandparents. We’ve all moved on in life. Some are successful journalists — my dear friend Diane Roberts does commentary for major newspapers, NPR and the BBC. She is a respected author and a professor of English. Others are lawyers, artists, musicians, lobbyists.
But it was almost as though 25 years had not flown by. We were just as we were at the Flambeau. Almost. And I was very glad for it.
Here’s to all of you Flam alums. And to the next reunion!