Celebrating my dad and the glory days of print journalism
My first “real” job after college was as a newspaper reporter and photographer. I still remember the rush of chasing down stories and racing out of the office when the police scanner went off to capture a photo of a fire, accident or some other oddity happening. Once, I was even sent out on assignment to get some pictures of wild turkeys in the hills of San Luis Obispo County, Calif. for the pre-Thanksgiving issue of the Atascadero News. During my time as a journalist, I covered everything from school board meetings to murders.
It was a different era for local journalism as the digital revolution was still dawning. I worked at two newspapers over just about three years before transitioning to a career in communications, marketing and PR. Today, print journalism is struggling to survive for a variety of reasons some of which are just due to progress/change. There have also been a lot of clueless bad decisions by media corporations and some of the legacy owners of print publications.
This is all coming up for me now, because yesterday I attended a celebration of the work of three local news photographers. One of those photographers was my dad, Herb Shoebridge, who worked his first job at the Pasadena (California) Star News when he was still a teenager. The event was hosted by the Altadena Historical Society. Altadena is a beautiful little village on the north edge of Pasadena nestled up against the majestic San Gabriel Mountains.
The event – “Eyes on Altadena” – was held to remember the unique and influential role local journalism had in communities like Pasadena. The Star News still exists, but like many local newspapers has seen a diminishing role in recent years. Yet, it and other local newspapers still play a signifcant role in sharing what is happening in a community and holding those in power accountable.
It’s interesting to me that my dad and I shared this brief career intersection. He had already moved on to becoming a freelance (non-news) photographer when I was born so I don’t think my career choice was influenced by what he did. I was also a much better writer than I ever was a photographer. However, I think I did pick up on his respect and interest in the news industry.
I think it’s easy to forget about the past, so I’m glad organizations like the historical society exist to preserve it. It was fun to visit with my dad and the other two photographers to hear them talk with everyone who attended yesterday's event.
I also want to close out by mentioning my first boss - and one of my best - Lon Allan, the long-time editor of the Atascader News. His final column is a great trip down memory lane.