By: Travis Naughton

By now you have surely noticed that the Journal has a new general news reporter working the Southern Boone County beat; a fellow named Travis Naughton. “THE Travis Naughton?” You may be asking. “The narcissistic, bipolar, alcoholic, bleeding-heart-liberal, substitute teacher, public address announcer, atheist wedding officiant, and stay-at-home parent/grandparent who has been ranting and raving on the Journal’s opinion page for the last ten years? THAT Travis Naughton?!”

Yes. THAT Travis Naughton. Me.

I can already hear “FAKE NEWS!” Being shouted by my several and enthusiastic detractors. In fact, one of the first people I reached out to for a news story that would be appearing on the Journal’s front page said, “It’s always risky answering questions for a biased journalist. Media without biased opinions are something that appear to be quite rare nowadays. Southern Boone definitely deserves an unbiased media in times such as these.”

I wholeheartedly agree.

On Page 4, the Journal’s opinion page, I am free to share my opinions on just about any subject I’m interested in. I’ve heard positive and negative feedback from readers over the years, which tells me two things: One, you don’t always agree with what I write, and two, despite the very real risk of being offended every now and then, you are nevertheless gracious enough to set aside a few minutes each week to read whatever happens to be on my mind at the time.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for spending that time with me. I mean it.

That being said, opinions are for the opinion page. Bias has no place on the front page of the newspaper. While I firmly believe that Walter Cronkite was the last truly unbiased member of the news media, I will make you this promise: I vow to do my level best to report both sides of every story whenever there are two sides to report. Like my skeptical interview subject so eloquently stated, Southern Boone absolutely deserves unbiased news coverage.

Although I’ve been accused by some of being a decent writer, I didn’t major in Creative Writing in college, and now that I’m a reporter, I must confess that I didn’t major in Journalism either. I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy. (I like to think of it as a B.A. in B.S.) Though a lot of folks consider a Philosophy degree to be fairly useless, I disagree. By reading the greatest thinkers of all time, I learned how to make well-reasoned, sound arguments—a skill that has served me well as an opinion writer. I believe that skill will serve me well as a reporter of facts, too.

While my politically-themed opinion pieces rely on formulating strong arguments, most of my weekly columns are a short form of storytelling. It is a fact that great journalists are often great storytellers. Writers Hunter S. Thompson, Ernest Hemingway, and Mark Twain are prime examples of this. All three of these famous storytellers were outstanding reporters. I realize I am not in the same league as these legends, but I certainly aspire to be.

So, my credentials as a journalist are thus: I learned the art of writing and formulating sound arguments in college. After that, I wrote a couple of long-form features for the Columbia Business Times that received high praise by my editor and sparked my interest in reporting. I wrote and self-published a novel (not quite as good as “The Old Man and the Sea”). I’ve been writing a weekly newspaper column for ten years. And today’s issue of the Boone County Journal features a front-page news story written by Travis Naughton—yes THAT Travis Naughton—for the fourth week in a row.

I’m a writer. I’m a storyteller. I’m a columnist. I’m a reporter.

I am a journalist. (Time to print new business cards!)