By TERRY AHNER

tahner@tnonline.com [1]

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

For better or for worse, that's what our readers have come to expect when they page through a copy of our newspaper.

Quite frankly, there are those who ascribe to the credo that no news is good news, and in some cases, they're right.

While we would like nothing better than to report that everything is all peaches and cream, the stark reality is that isn't possible.

In no uncertain terms, that's the message I try to convey to students and young adults who may have aspirations to work in the field of journalism.

I don't believe it's fair to them to blur the line between fact and fiction, nor do I want them to approach the profession with any false pretenses or misconceptions.

In the years since I've come on board with the TIMES NEWS, my job has afforded me the opportunity to speak to students and offer them career guidance tips.

Since then, I've had the distinct pleasure to serve as a guest speaker at St. John Neumann Regional School in Palmerton on a pair of occasions.

I can honestly say that in both instances, I found the students to be inquisitive, insightful, and engaging throughout my dialogue with them.

For their part, they asked questions that ranged from my salary, to the most difficult assignment I've ever had to cover, to a typical day in the life of a reporter.

In turn, it was interesting to hear about their interests when I turned the tide on them and asked what field of study they would like to pursue when they grow older.

I was captivated by how well thought out their career ambitions are at such a young age, not to mention how well beyond their years they are.

Most recently, I had the good fortune to host a Lehighton Area High School student who spent several days here at the office as part of her senior project.

At that time, the student told me of her interest in journalism, and asked if she could come to the office to job shadow me.

I was more than happy to accommodate her request, as I believed it would be a wonderful learning experience for her.

Throughout the process, she was able to observe phone interviews I conducted, and watch as I pieced together my articles from start to finish.

However, by the time her job shadowing was complete, the student admitted to me that she wasn't so certain journalism was her preferred career choice after all.

While she isn't ready to discard it completely from her future plans, the student said she may be more inclined to put it on the back burner and pursue other interests.

That just goes to show that the newspaper industry isn't for everyone, a point that I attempt to stress to my audience.

In all honesty, it takes a thick skin to do what we do; be it a close-up photo of a convicted criminal, to that hard question that elicits an emotional response.

That isn't to say the job is without its share of joy and excitement, as there have been far more examples of triumphs and acts of good will which we are more than happy to report on.

Just as you would in any other line of work, you learn to take the good with the bad, and hope the former outweighs the latter, which in my case, it truly does.

In any event, I enjoy being a mentor of sorts, and strive to set a good example for today's youth who may have an interest in our profession.

It gives me great pleasure and a tremendous sense of fulfillment to be able to share my insight and knowledge of the newspaper business with them.

I can only hope that one day they'll be able to apply that knowledge and parlay it into a successful career in whatever career path they choose.