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Column: THE GRAY LINE TOUR

Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / May 4, 1998

‘BEST ALONG THE RIVER’ NOT JUST A MOTTO FOR US

In the stress-filled world of the journalism profession, it’s always rewarding to hear the accolades of your peers. Such was the case at therecent spring convention of the Louisiana Press Association, where the annual awards for editorial excellence were presented. L’Observateur didquite well, with 21 awards this year, one of its best years ever.

Regardless of the number of awards, however, the real reward comes from the day-to-day pleasure of working with such a group at this newspaper.

During the past 24 years, I’ve worked at several newspapers across south Louisiana, from Zachary to Belle Chasse. I’ve never experienced such apleasurable work environment as the one I’ve enjoyed here. Not only arewe all driven to excellence, we genuinely take pride in each other’s accomplishments and enjoy one another’s company, both at the office and away from work.

The chief beneficiaries in this office of good fellowship are, of course, the readers.

Our sportswriter, Mike Kiral, is a master at sports coverage, writing with verve, wit, depth, intelligence and scope. He’s comprehensive and is also agreat person to be around, as many coaches, players and parents have discovered.

Our education writer, Rebecca Burk, tackles every story with drive and determination, with a passion for the true and complete story. She hasearned respect for her thoroughness and style.

Our managing editor, Sandy Seal, leads the department by her own example of integrity, professionalism, rich experience and patience. I’ve nevercome across a job supervisor for whom I’ve had more respect and admiration.

I just try to keep up and justify my own job (mostly covering police and government news), happy simply to be counted among this group.

As I said earlier, we are proud of each other’s accomplishments and enjoy each other’s company. With so much jealousy, petty competition within anoffice, back-stabbing and poor work attitudes, it’s a welcome relief to work in a place such as L’Observateur.

We know our jobs, we work hard to continually improve and we recognize if we ever get complacent or too full of ourselves, we’re on the way to mediocrity.

Awards and plaques are nice, but they don’t pay the bills. However, anexcellent work environment, among thorough professionals, provides motivation to continually strive for excellence.

And, as I said earlier, the readers benefit by having in L’Observateur “the best along the river.” It’s not just a motto, it’s what we prove everyissue, providing responsible and accurate news for the River Parishes.

I love my job.

Leonard Gray is a reporter for L’Observateur.

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