By JEFF JOBE
I have been asked to speak to a group of writers, editors, and publishers in my hometown of Greenup, Kentucky on April 29 and I will be staying at the beautiful Greenbo Lake State Park. When I got the call, I was taken back a bit because this is my first request to speak about my writing. I’ve often written that nowhere on my resume does it say I can write.
When asked why they wanted me to speak I was told because the topic is, “using life’s experiences in your work.” I accepted because it was a compliment for the group organizers to notice this about my writing.
The good and bad in my life makes its way to my column and I do this to help explain how my thoughts are formed. Helping explain my thoughts helps me soften the blow of the hard truth I find myself most inspired to write about.
This week I was filled with emotion as I wrote about a group of teenagers who found themselves being hurt and another media outlet along with a Sheriff not only disclosing their identities and/or likenesses in video and refusing to accept that perhaps there is a better way.
I know first-hand how the teenagers felt because back in 1978, me and a couple friends chose to take one of their grandfathers small Chris Craft boat out on the river. Teenagers don’t think things through completely, we didn’t contemplate that July 4 might not a good day to pull each other on the river inside inner-tubes and certainly not just a few miles from the Ashland/Ironton Boating Regatta.
Naturally we weren’t completely honest with our parents; I’m not sure what the others said but I told my mom I was going to be there with my friend and his father. I didn’t have a dad in my life so the manipulative teen I was I knew this would work; she liked the idea of me having a male roll model in my life.
It wasn’t long before our day was turned upside down just like the Edmonson County teens who burst into flames on video, the other who called 911 for help after driving off the road, or even the ones trying and run from highly engaged Sheriff Deputies.
My day on July 4, 1978 changed my life forever. It seems my hometown paper felt a headline of, “teen endangers himself” was suitable for a story that neglected to mention the boat who ran over me, cut my leg off and left me to bleed to death was driven by a fella who went up river and threw out all his alcohol and drugs before coming back to see if I was okay.
I’m comfortable the readers in Edmonson County see the comparison but for our other 6 community newspapers let me explain. These above examples of teens all making bad choices, are feeling terrible for letting their parents down, they are dealing with other just as manipulative and dastardly teens because of their recovery and sadly having to face community thinking they are more of adult criminals instead of stupid teens.
I write because I want to explain why it is I stand for these teenagers who make mistakes, not to defend their actions but to encourage their growth. You see that day back in 1978 changed my life in so many ways. I wasn’t a man before that particular day and I did things all boys did but soon after I became one.
I learned to say, “I’m sorry mom for lying to you.” I learned that with changing my wound dressing on my own I was accepting responsibility for myself, I learned that kids who walk differently are just kids who walk differently, and I learned the cold hard truth that sometimes in politics and the media it is just about who you know.
I write this and publish it on the same page in which the Edmonson County Sheriff and the Edmonson Voice owner’s mom and dad write a letter detailing their thoughts of how they perceive me as picking on their boys.
I’m comfortable this letter will give me yet another experience I am sure to call upon in the future. It is so clear that no matter how old a child, a parent will do all they can to come to their defense.
I’m comfortable the senior Doyle’s are good people, they must be because my good friends Bill and Kathy Canty had given them a free subscription for years and because I honored their existing operation I have never billed them myself.
In time I feel comfortable they and others who are confused with our harder than normal approach to news isn’t so much as aggression as it is in defense of those I know are being hurt. Not defending these teenagers after the life I have had would scare me more!
Jeff Jobe is founder and CEO of Jobe Publishing, Inc. His commentary reflects his personal views and does not reflect the views of personal or professional associations and affiliations. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his previously published commentary at www.jobeforkentucky.com