Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

The day the world blew up

On April 20, 1995, I was driving north on Interstate 95 from my job in Deerfield Beach to West Palm Beach, where I’d be interviewing for a part-time position with The Palm Beach Post.

That day was in many ways a culmination of six years of dedicated and hard work. A year earlier, I had graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a bachelor’s degree in communications. My goal was to get a job in journalism or anything that involved writing or editing. In June 1994, I had quit the Postal Service and felt like I had really taken control of my life. Working in what was jokingly referred to as the “Mail Destruction Facility” in West Palm Beach had shown me how you could have a meaningless career; I was ready to get a job that not only offered satisfaction but also a chance to advance.

I had worked at an Electronics Boutique in the now-gone Palm Beach Mall over the Christmas 1994 holidays, then landed a job with Cybergate, an Internet access provider, as a customer service representative. The job was OK, but I wanted to be in journalism. A friend from FAU, whose father was a phone system technician at the paper, let me know that a job was opening up, and I applied.

I was accepted for an interview, so I got permission to take some time off and go there for the interview.

The Post was still at its old, 1960 facility. The new building was under construction and close to being finished. Newspapers still mattered, but the Internet and the web was becoming something new and a new way to present news. I definitely wanted to be on the leading edge.

I was in my car and listening to a local talk show host on WJNO radio that morning. Nowadays, local radio talk show hosts are gone, replaced by syndicated hosts, but back then the station had local talkers. The morning host kept mentioning this explosion that took place in Oklahoma City, and there was much speculation as the terrible news filtered in about the possible cause.

Like many, I will admit that I thought it might be Muslim terrorists. I was wrong. It was domestic terror. More on that in another post.

At The Palm Beach Post, I met the people who I would end up working with (spoiler alert: I got the job) and one of the things we talked about was “this thing in Oklahoma City” and how we’d handle it on the web.

A few weeks later, I was advised that I got the job. For a time, I worked two jobs but then quit Cybergate. The newspaper was where I wanted to be.

I worked on great stuff at the Post, including the hurricane websites, the advent of Windows 95, the Post’s “Click Here” section, the Marlins’ championship season and, to my horror, a terrible plane crash in the Everglades. I eventually took my skills and experience to the Boca Raton News, then to other news outlets.

But I will never forget that day, that terrible day, when the world blew up.

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April 22, 2015 - Posted by | Life lessons, The news business | , , , ,

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