In a box in my attic are the dozens and dozens of Reporter's Notebooks that I filled with barely-legible notes over the 25 years or so that I was using them. They contain quickly scrawled radio scripts, phone numbers, doodles and details of many of the crimes, court cases, city council and county commissioners court proceedings that I covered up until The Big Change. Over the years, I had even developed my own system of shorthand: Excpt at th bgng of wrds, I rmvd all vwls frm th sntncs, 2 mk kpng up wth spch qukr.
About five years ago, I more or less quit using actual paper, pen and my de facto shorthand to take notes on the stories I cover. Oh, sure, there's still the occasional hearing or news conference where a notebook (the old-fashioned kind) will see the light of day, but generally, I'm doing everything on my laptop or, more recently, my iPad. It's just easier to have all the information in one easily accessible place and format. That's the Big Change.
So, what should I do with the big box of Reporter's Notebooks up in the attic? All of their scribblings and much more could be contained in my one small iPad and much of the ink on the yellowed paper has faded from usefulness, anyway.
I will, on occasion, pause to open the box when I'm in the attic to change the furnace filter or fetch the Christmas decorations:
6/13/97 Mcvgh shws lttl emtn as vrdct is rd. (Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh is convicted and sentenced to die.)
8/31/88 NTSB: DL 1141 lsts :22 bfr impct. (Delta Flight 1141 crashes at D/FW Airport.)
3/18/94 Btlt NAFTA "win/win": (Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett touts the economic benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement.)
Maybe the iPad is a quicker, more reliable means of taking notes on my stories, but the old paper notebooks still hold value to me, even if it's only nostalgic value, and I think I'll keep them. Given the ever-evolving nature of digital technology and the designed obsolescence that forces us to replace or upgrade our devices, I do wonder how I'll chronicle the rest of my career, now that the Reporter's Notebook has been replaced by the electronic notebook.