I recall that first meeting. The men of the church had gathered together to help him clear the field beside the house. As I recall it was a field for his horses. The man had just lost his wife to illness and was a member of the church. Dutifully I helped as I could.
I recall going into the Kershaw News Era offices early on and helping with Networking the Macintosh eggs (what I thought they looked like). One still sits in my home office holding down the floor. These events occurred back when Drs. Timmons and Hegler were operating a clinic out of the old KARE building. Jon Hegler and his wife has just two children.
I was intrigued by the newsroom. It was open and sprawling, and Jim’s desk sat in the middle, with his back to the layout boards. It seemed like organized chaos. Kind of the bustle and rushing one would expect with deadlines.
I am pretty sure I was submitting pictures long before I began getting paid as a stringer, and then as a reporter. I would turn in some and Jim would go with Tim Deaton’s shots. I would get frustrated, and that made me just work harder to make better pictures.
I came to learn that Jim was a very smart man, and knew what he wanted and how to get it. He was supportive and firm. He told me no on many occasions. I would pitch a photo story or article idea, and he would not bite, and the idea would fade out from there. Jim was a basic news man to me. He did not go for the flashy or the visually exciting shots. He wanted Americana. He wanted the parades, and the shots that showed to “real” news in the area. It was deeper than what might sell advertising. He wanted to inform the people of this area about the “Real” news and not just who did what. A point that was his last educational lesson to me.
Because he had turned down so many stories from out of the Kershaw Area, I had made an assumption that since there was nothing local on the County Council Agenda, that I might skip that meeting. He surprised me in asking me to still report on it. His reasoning, was that way the people in Kershaw could keep up with what was going on in the rest of the county. The distinction was made much more clear as I have thought about that moment. Jim wanted the news that would be important to most of the residents, not just a few. Many of my story ideas were small in scope.
In our world of clicks and likes, with instant gratification and feedback, Jim sought to bring a quality service to those who needed it. Largely I suspect because he felt he needed to, and not because it was profitable.
Since Jim’s death, I have been asked a few times what would happen with the paper. I can’t answer that. Sarah, his daughter, will have to sort all that out. What I do know is that the people of Kershaw and surrounding areas, still have a need for information, from local to county wide. I am not in the position of taking on the News Era. I can write and post. I plan to continue to provide the writeups I have been doing of county council, and AJ sports. I may place them here, or in a new blog, but post I will. I will be including pictures to the stories. I am going to follow Jim’s lead and do this because it is what is needed. Thank you Jim for many lessons and many good years.