The View from Afar

Writings by retired newspaper publisher Stephen Waters


Stephen B. Waters December, 2010

Individuals, Journalism, and Society


It’s Election Day, 2008, but the change people hope for is not the change they need. Because there was a need to think better to survive, modernist author Virginia Woolf claimed in 1923 that on December 10, 1910, the world had changed. She was premature. The world would actually begin to change 100 years later on December 10, 2010.

As accessible simple wisdoms empower people, character becomes easier to develop. New metaphors encourage processes kids understand, admire, and wish to emulate in a deeper way.

And none too soon. Journalism suffers from pervasive fog. Consciousness slips away. Schools lose traction. Character develops by chance. Politicians play games. Economists forget what works. History and philosophy drift. Scholarship loses perspective. Religion and tradition stall at cultural boundaries. Misbehavior threatens society’s fragile fabric. Literature and language languish as destroyers march through civil institutions in a world made more dangerous by scientific progress. Fortunately, all it takes is a change of mind.

You are the main character of this book. Your experience shows patterns that can nudge your thought toward strong and useful character. Enjoy! People seldom get to revel in history to discover golden threads of simple wisdom.

Modern, Post-modern, and Post-colonial literary styles that preoccupied 20th century fiction fail to offer a way out of the fun house. This book avoids such styles, marking the trail back to what matters using Socratic dialogs indented to label different speakers. The chapters provide one order, but read them according to your interests—try 12 Noon for character, 2 PM for politics, or 5 PM for practical lessons.

Individuals, Journalism, and Society podcasts as read by the author:

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Ch. 00 Introduction
Ch. 01: 6am - On the fog of consciousness
Ch. 02: 7am - On footprints in literature
Ch. 03: 8am - 1880s On modernity and self-doubt
Ch. 04: 9am - 1890s On journalism, narratives, and belief
Ch. 05: 10am - 1900s On art, consciousness, and society
Ch. 06: On schooling children
Ch. 07: On exploring character
Ch. 08: 1pm - 1910s On hope and reality
Ch. 09: 2pm - 1920s On politics and post-WWI modernism
Ch. 10: 3pm - 1930s On economics and citizenship
Ch. 11: 4pm - 1940s On history and philosophy after WWII
Ch. 12: 5pm - 1950s On scholarship and moral ambiguity
Ch. 13: 6pm - 1960s On religion and traditions
Ch. 14: 7pm - 1970s On literature evolving
Ch. 15: 8pm - 1980s On empires and language
Ch. 16: 9pm - 1990s On a long march through the culture
Ch. 17: 10pm - 2000s On rust never sleeps
Ch. 18: 11pm - 2010s On pivot points
Ch. 19: 12am - On the dawn of a new day
Ch. 20: Acknowledgments

Stephen B. Waters

In early 2021, with 46 years in the business, I retired as publisher of the Rome (NY) Daily Sentinel

After five generations of family ownership, despite an unsettled economy, we keep on. We understand that although we may own the newspaper, we hold it in stewardship for the community.

Across my career, so many other small newspapers were purchased by media chains, large newspapers sold their integrity, and broadcast news outfits fell back on superficial entertainment.

They put journalism in this country at risk. The best antidote is for individual readers to arm themselves to recognize the danger to their community, culture, and society itself.