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Interview with a Journalist

Photo by Harrison DiCocco

The journalism field has drastically changed technologically, and for research for my story I sought out the advice of a seasoned journalism veteran.

Jim Harger is the former Business Editor and currently covers business and housing at the Grand Rapids Press/MLive.com. He has been in the journalism field for an astounding 41 years. He began his career at the Holland Sentinel where  printing was done on an “old-timer” printing press.

Harger reflected on his career with a series of jokes to begin, “Is made my house payments,” Harger said. “It put food on the table, and it helped pass the time. It’s a great profession, I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t a journalist. I love to tell stories, I love to write, I’m naturally curious and it is my personality.”

His philosophy is adapting to “changing the narrative and values” as each challenge is presented to journalists, “That’s kind of how I view our role,” Harger said. “With every story we write, hopefully we’ll share and reflect what’s happening in our community. That’s really what we are, a reflection of the communities that we live in.”

In the 41 years that Harger has been immersed in the world of journalism, it has (obviously) changed significantly from a technology standpoint.

“Technology has changed immensely,” Harger said. “What we do, the standards of what we do, have not changed at all. 41 years ago I worked for the Holland Sentinel, we printed our paper on  a hot-lead press, I typed my stories out on a typewriter and we would have glue pots so we could glue or tape or stories together, so when you turned in a story, it would be a long sheet of paper, which would get edited by pencil and sent to a typesetter who would type out the story in  a big, clunky, dangerous machine call the ‘Linotype.’ Then the letters would be cast in lead and put onto a curved plate, about as big as a half-tire and it would then be bolted onto the press and the press would turn.”

Harger further explained how he finished a story that day and was able to post it online after edits were made quickly on the computer.

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