Twenty-five years ago this week, the tiny Hickory (N.C.) Daily Record hired me to be a sportswriter. It was a job I wasn’t sure I wanted in a field that seemed beyond me.
Two and a half tumultuous decades later, I’m working at one of the largest newspapers in the world — and many days, the field still feels beyond me.
USA TODAY intimidates on a couple of levels. Beyond the institutional heft of the brand, there’s an outstanding newsroom full of grand credentials and big egos. I love working there, but it’s the the kind of place that amplifies the voice in my head that’s always whispered “you’re not supposed to be here.”
Yet if I’ve learned anything during the past 25 years, it’s this: You don’t need the right connections, the right academic degrees or the right journalism awards to succeed in the news business (though they certainly help). You need to work hard and care deeply about what you’re doing. It’s that simple.
So thanks, Hickory Daily Record, for taking a chance on a kid with a mere bachelor’s degree and a few crumpled-up clips from his college newspaper.