I’m not much for new year’s resolutions, but over the past few weeks I’ve decided to get a little more organized. Whether it’s sorting through bills and piles of paperwork at home or recycling old clippings and newspapers at the office, I’m looking to simplify and streamline.
This desire to catalogue my belongings fits in well with an effort at the Catholic Courier to create a more effective archive for photo prints and negatives that our photographers produced during the 1980s and ’90s. They have been preserved but are not user-friendly to access, since many are piled loosely in boxes. So last week I began compiling them by date, and soon I hope to put all the negatives into three-ring binders and all the prints into archival boxes.
The slow, sometimes painfully dull process of leafing through hundreds of plastic sleeves of negatives has occasionally been enlightening. Seeing shots from sporting events, news conferences and parish profiles on black-and-white film reminds me that although the technology has changed since these photos were taken, the act of recording the events and telling the stories of the people involved remains the same. I may use a digital camera instead of a film camera, and I may edit my photos on a monitor instead of a light table, but in the end I’m just trying to capture a genuine moment that tells a story. And that’s exactly what my predecessors were doing.
I’m proud to be a journalist because, despite what you might hear to the contrary, the vast majority of us work hard to paint an honest picture for our readers. From time to time it’s good to look back (even if it’s just 20 years back) and remember that this has been and should continue to be our focus.