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News Ink is Messy Business
Cher Phillips at Anderson High School in March 1987
O ver my desk hangs a yellowed picture of me cut from my hometown newspaper ages ago. People think it's neat. They think it gives me context. I'd like to spin you a story about what a dedicated journalism student I was, even then. But I simply can't.

The truth is I was sitting on the floor with the paper spread out in front of me because this is how I read newspapers. I turn the pages touching the very corners. When I carry a stack of the Independent Florida Alligator across campus for my clip file, they fold over my arm.

My dirty little secret: I can not stand the feel of news print on my hands.

My first job was delivering the Indianapolis News in seventh grade. The job gave me freedom-financial and otherwise. There is a give and take with most pursuits. What I didn't love--aside from riding my ten-speed in blizzard conditions--was the oily-dry film news print left all over from rolling rubberbands down 35 papers every afternoon.

Part of enjoying life is appreciating irony. As much as I hate the residue of news print, I love to see my byline. I love reporting and writing for a paper. I love the connection a reporter feels to her community. I love who I am when I am following this path.

"Do what you love


to do it and it


you where you need to go."

- Natalie Goldberg

My magazine feature writing professor at Indiana University, Holly Stocking, turned me onto Natalie Goldberg through her book, "Writing Down the Bones." Both women made a lasting impression. In the introduction of "Bones," Goldberg wrote, "Do what you love, continue to do it and it will take you where you need to go."

Goldberg was getting at the Zen aspect in writing but the concept resonated. Isn't one of the main tenets of journalism perseverance?

Online media isn't what I thought or where I thought I would end up. I'm still not sure I like learning to cook with code. But I've realized when I read newspapers online, I can click to my heart's content without ever wiping my hands on my jeans to get the ink off.

This photograph is used with the permission of the Anderson Herald-Bulletin and photographer John Cleary who shot the picture in March 1987.

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