My first thought is where did those 20 years go? When we are young, time seems to pass slowly. Senior citizens know that time flies. Retrospection reminds us that life does not always proceed as planned.
When young, we often have clear plans for occupations, relationships, homes and more. Life sometimes gets in the way of these plans. In my youth, living in West Virginia and writing newspaper opinion columns were not even remote considerations. Today, they are both important aspects of my life.
To paraphrase Yogi Berra, 20 years ago, another fork in the road appeared, and I took it. While my psychology career was active, I had the opportunity to be one of two people chosen as initial citizen members of The Herald-Dispatch's editorial board.
Having always been a newspaper aficionado, this experience offered me new insight into print journalism. I have fond memories of Wednesday afternoon editorial board meetings with many former Herald-Dispatch news professionals actively, and I mean that literally, voicing their opinions.
Today's newspaper world is very different from 1999. Electronic media had not yet seriously impacted print journalism and "fake news" was not a concern. Most adults figure out that hard work alone is rarely enough to reach their goals. Those who claim that they achieved success entirely by their own efforts are often nave or self-centered.
Before I ever wrote one opinion column, I had two favorite columnists, Mike Royko, who composed thousands of columns for Chicago newspapers, and Dave Peyton, whose Herald-Dispatch columns are legendary. Both of these men minced no words. They offended many readers but pleased even more. Sometimes, they even spurred politicians to do what they should have already done. They provided excellent models for me. To this day, I still have a few of Royko's old dog-eared columns and a folder of Dave's.
My thanks to Jim Casto, then the editorial page editor, who gave me the initial chance to write op-ed columns and demonstrated the craftsmanship of editing.
In 2007, Jim Ross, the current editorial page editor, gave me the opportunity to write weekly columns and continues to demonstrate the importance of editing. Thanks also to executive editors, presently Les Smith and previously Ed Dawson. And a special thanks to my personal editor, my husband, Maury. He graciously offers sage advice and is a master of missed commas.
My thanks also to the readers of my columns. Over 20 years, I have heard from many of you, and I appreciate it when you take the time to talk with or email me. Some of you are pleased with most of my opinions. Others feel exactly the opposite. This reinforces my belief that in a free and open society there is room for a wide range of views.
Today, news media and print journalism are facing serious challenges, some from politics, but largely from electronic communications. The Herald-Dispatch and many newspapers are responding to this situation, and my hope is that our community will continue to support our only local newspaper.
Mark Twain is reported to have said, "Writing is easy; all you have to do is cross out the wrong words." I look forward to continuing to try to cross out the wrong words in my future columns.
Diane W. Mufson is a retired psychologist. Her email is email@example.com.