How things have changed, how they have remained the same: A retrospective view

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sanford larson photo
Sanford Larson used the same African expedition company and visited some of the same places in his 1979 voyage. (This image is from the Central African Republic.) At that time, I was in Rhodesia, working as a journalist to live through the transition to Zimbabwe.

As I approach senior citizen status (turning 65 in 14 months), I’m thankful for two qualities that have defined my life: A sense of adventure and a fascination with living history (journalism).

These interests took me half way around the world to Africa in the late 1970s. Later this year, I’ll return there, this time with my wife and our 19-year-old son. Travel conditions will of course be different. In 1977-80, communication back home would be by mail, and you might require two months for a return message. Now, we’ll turn on the wi-fi (free at most hotels and restaurants around the world) and catch up on business in real-time.

Journalism of course has evolved since the birth of this business in 1988. You may be reading this viewpoint in print format, but an increasing number of readers – and an increasing portion of our business – are online.

Recently, for example, we launched Indiana Construction News (Indianaconstructionnews.com). I’ve never been to the US state – we’ll visit Indianapolis the first time this summer when the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) holds its annual convention there. However, using data sources and journalistic skills, I’ve been able to crank out several credible stories a week for the embryonic site.

Our advertising services, also, are increasingly online, with significant business in Florida, North Carolina and Chicago (Illinois). On the both the U.S. and Canadian sides, thousands of readers receive our weekly eletters, designed with locally relevant content.

I expect the day will come sometime within the next few years when the newsprint-format publications will be largely replaced by digital magazines and websites, with enhanced video and plenty of social media tie-ins. As it is, this digital-first strategy defines our approach to entering and adapting to new markets.

In some respects, these changes are difficult. Yet I also appreciate that some values have remained consistent.

Community participation, support, associations, and relationships are as important as they were in the 1980s or even the 1970s.

I’m looking forward to the transfer of this business to employees and key contractors (who may become employees in the process) in the next few years.

Retirement? There’s no reason to quit doing the work I love. Presumably however, there will be more time to explore distant locations and revisit memories.

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