Robert LaRouche
A Reporter's Eye:
50 Years in the Newspaper Business


In eighth grade I was named editor of the school newspaper. That was over 50 years ago, my first newspaper job. In high school I delivered newspapers (Newark NJ STAR LEDGER), set pins in a bowling alley at night, worked in a butcher shop, learned to hand-set type. They were all experiences that I cherish, part of the general education a journalist needs to understand the real world.

Since then I have made my living as a reporter and feature writer, news and magazine photographer, teacher and photo editor. In my mind they are all the same: gather information, organize it and pass it on.

This is what we do: Tell the story. Try to get it right.

The words give you the details, the hard fact matter. The photos show what the story is about, physically and emotionally. They work together to tell the story.

I worked at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as photographer and photo editor, for 43 years. Before that I worked at newspapers in Elizabeth, NJ; Toledo, Cleveland, Washington Court House and Yellow Springs, Ohio; Russellville, KY. and Santa Fe, NM. Some of those jobs were while I was a student at Antioch College in Ohio, where students spent half their time on full time "co-op jobs" as part of the education. They call them internships now.

As a matter of simple coincidence, in my career I have ridden the waves of changing technology, from hand-set headlines and hot lead to offset printing, from processing sheet film from a 4X5 Speed Graphic to editing digital photos in Photoshop on a computer. I had to bootleg 35mm and roll film on the night shift because the chief photographer believed only sheet film was "professional."

The cliche is that "it has been an honor and a privilege." I'll pass on the honor, but a lifetime as a working newspaperman has been a decided privilege, an opportunity granted to a few to have a voice in significant social dialogue. Privilege implies responsibility, always. In the new corporate world of journalism ethics by committee, there are multiple pages of written guidelines. They boil down to some simple basics:

Be honest. Be real. Yes, "honesty" is subjective. It is a big part of integrity, seeking the truth to the best of your skills and sensibilities. Being true to your subjects and your readers is the obligation that comes with the press pass. Being true to yourself is also part of integrity.

The photographs here are a sampling of images gathered and stories covered. in my time at the Post-Dispatch. They include some of my favorite stories and a few favorite photos -- that is much the same thing. I've tried to put them in context, in the caption key provided.

They do not include a great deal else that goes into the daily life and efforts of the working journalist, a staff photographer on a metropolitan daily newspaper.

But that's another story.