My boy called me from the toll booth at the Pennsylvania state line Friday afternoon and said he was driving in white-out conditions and wanted to know what to do.
“Keep going,” I said. “You’ll eventually get through it.”
It was an apt metaphor for this past year and maybe life in general. We often didn’t know where we were going, or when we were going to get there, we just knew we had to keep going.
This was a year of worry for me.
I worried about just about everything.
While watching Ken Burns’ Vietnam War documentary this fall, I was reminded of a hot summer night when I was a young teenager and stayed up late talking with my father and uncle about world events.
We were all deeply troubled about the war and the division in the country.
I couldn’t sleep that night.
I was torn about what to do about the world in turmoil and worried that I would have to go to Vietnam, too. I was just 12 or 13.
I tossed and turned, thinking about Vietnam, the college students protesting the war and the four who had been killed at Kent State. I finally acknowledged I would not be able to solve the world’s problems that night.
It was a reminder that times have been worse, and America wasn’t so great then either.
I felt that way many times this year.
What worried me the most this year was the war I was fighting over the credibility of my newspaper, the profession I devoted my life to and wondering who would hold the “powers that be” accountable without journalists.
I still believe we are the good guys.
I’ve spent a lot of time defending my profession from the lies.
Explaining how we do the work we do, the dedication it takes and the commitment to holding institutions accountable.
I’ve been called names this year.
I’ve been attacked and told our newspaper is no good.
And like so many of my colleagues, we have been called “fake news.”
I’ve defended my writers, called out politicians and demanded proof of our wrongdoing without getting any.
In recent years, I worried about maintaining the quality of our work with fewer reporters and less space as revenues decreased in a digital world.
This was different.
This was personal.
This was an attack on an institution that is as important to our democracy as the Constitution.
I believe there was a perception we were weak.
That we wouldn’t fight back.
That the politicians believed they could get away with saying anything.
That we wouldn’t defend ourselves against the bullies, the liars and the charlatans who attacked us regularly and continue to do so.
That made 2017 difficult.
It also made it special, because we were up to the fight.
We showed we would continue to report the news and hold institutions in our community accountable and we would not stand for the lies being told about us.
By doing our jobs, we would continue to make a difference.
So as the whiteout of misinformation buried us, you know what we did?
We kept going.
And I promise you, we’ll keep going in 2018, too.