The editorial in this past Thursday’s edition of The Jambar, the student newspaper of Youngstown State University, began this way:
Even out of the most depressed of cities, there are examples of why all hope is not lost.
Youngstown State University alum Craig Duff is one of these examples.
YSU students have long had an inferiority complex. It was true when I was there and it still hangs like the gray clouds of March over the finely landscaped campus, in the middle of a town that is the shell of a former industrial powerhouse.
I often joked with my Ive League students at Princeton that my undergrad school was in the Poison Ivy League.
But I wanted to strike a much more positive tone this week in a visit to the campus, speaking to students and the public about the state of the news media, and conducting workshops with local journalists on multimedia skills. After all, I have much to be grateful for.
I began my public talk with a notion one of my favorite professors used to say at the end of every class: “Keep the faith.”
That teacher was Richard James, whose powerful baritone was the voice of local radio news and ads for the Home Savings and Loan company. He was in radio for so long that when you walked under a bridge with him, you couldn’t hear him talk.*
Dick James saw potential in me I didn’t see in myself until much later. He encouraged me to go to graduate school, and nudged me out of the rust belt. I landed in the Bible Belt, and grew confidence in the Masters in Film program at the University of Texas, where I found other significant mentors and was recruited for a bottom-rung job at CNN Headline News (long ago, when it was a half-hour news service, not a platform for Nancy Grace’s outrage).
The rest is history, or at least the tiny slice of history that is my bio.
Now I am at the mid-point in my career, where I’m reminded of Graham Greene’s line about reaching a level where you’re judged by what you produce, no longer by your promise. Read the rest of this entry »