Who Is This Hirsute Heartthrob Young Newspaperman?

Behold the furrowed brow of a young reporter reading the hell out of this newspaper. The slightly pursed lips of deadly serious journalism. The—whoa—the hair. 

Is this a film still from the set of All the President’s Men?

No question the photo was taken several presidential administrations ago, but think more locally. (I’m looking no further than the desk right across from mine.)

This curly-haired defender of the fourth estate? None other than DailyUV’s own Mark Travis.

Take a closer look. That’s really him.

Out of some musty hanging file folder, a gift from smoky newsroom gods of a fading format, this landed in my lap, and suddenly raises a lot of questions. Who better to ask than...

Mark, I’ll dispense with the hair jokes and cut right to the chase. When was this photo taken, and where, and what beat were you covering, and did you even try to tame that mane?

I’m guessing 1982. That would mean I was a 25-year-old projects reporter at the Valley News, and it looks like I was working a hot story about the Upper Valley job market. I had so much untamed hair that my nickname was Animal. Hair stylists sang my praises: “Oh, I wish I had your curly hair!” It’s good to be young. I think. Hard to remember, but this is what young people tell me.

Wow, 1982. A year that gave us Michael Jackson’s Thriller. And Time magazine’s “Man of the Year” was...The Computer. Speaking of, just over your left shoulder, what kind of relic is that, and what could you do with it?

Surely you jest. That was Time’s Man of the Year in all its plastic glory! You are looking at an actual “dumb terminal” connected by “wire” to the “mainframe,” which filled a large room and boasted nearly enough computing capacity to operate a digital kitchen timer. What you could do with it is scream when it said “File Not Saved” on deadline.

I’m sure “mainframe” and “wire” mean something to someone. I tried to convince my 6-year-old daughter that my iPhone is a computer. She strongly disagrees. But back to the photo—apparently the Tuesday this was taken was “digital.” Could you have imagined then that every day of your life would be digital?

I believe the “digital” in the photo denotes Digital Equipment Corp., which grew immense and roamed the land until an asteroid later named for Bill Gates and Steve Jobs struck California and roasted all the brontosaurs. I also remember the night years later when an excited coworker showed me this thing called the Internet. He logged us into a network at Tel Aviv University, and I was not impressed. Why could this possibly matter? So, no, I did not imagine every day of my life being digital—until it was.

Also, please text your daughter that my first cellphone was the size of a brick.

Jobs and Gates announcing a mass-extinction event, apparently while sharing a parfait?

From print to digital, room-size mainframes to handheld phones, luscious curly hair to…what you have now, and from young reporter to sage wrangler of creative content makers, yourself included, here at DailyUV—what do you most dig about the mission of making storytellers of us all?

I love creating things, as much as I did when I was young and first writing stories. I love trying to think through new and different ways of solving new and different problems. I love teaching bloggers and businesses and nonprofits how to tell their stories online, because I think good stories connect us. What could be better than helping people in the Upper Valley share and recognize the good stories we all have to tell?

Woot! I am so excited I feel my hair growing back. Someone get me a mirror!

Mark in his natural environment at DailyUV—computer now firmly in the foreground.

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