The kid scampered ahead of his classmates. He wanted to be one of the first to set foot in the building, but he stopped as he got to the first step. He looked up to count the floors. One, two, three…it wasn’t The Times. He was awestruck all the same. The Birmingham News.
Truth be told, the kid was a man grown in 2007, but he was still a kid at heart. His graduation was fast approaching. He’d soon leave The Plains, his home of Auburn, Alabama. He needed to get some experience at smaller, local papers before landing a job at The Birmingham News. He didn’t know it while standing on those steps, but before the day was out, he’d return home and start filling out applications for every small paper across the state.
His only real experience with newspapers outside of university was reading about J. Jonah Jameson and Peter Parker or following the exploits of Clark Kent and Lois Lane. He had this 1950s-esque picture in his mind of a cigar-smoking reporter wearing a cheap suit and fedora while pounding the keys of his typewriter. He’d be working toward a Pulitzer-winning story. Other reporters would sprint by his desk with their next big lead. The editor would yell orders across the room as everyone rushed to beat the deadline.
Reality didn’t exactly match the picture in his mind. The kid knew it wouldn’t. On those steps of the recently-built news office, he’d need to let go of the fantasy. He breathed deep and stepped forward at the instruction of his professor.
Field trips were a rare occurrence in college, but this professor was different. His classroom was merely a part of the learning process. Journalism was more than memorizing rules and writing a few papers each semester. The only way to understand journalism was to step foot into an office and observe.
That’s the day the kid’s life changed forever. He knew what he wanted to do after he graduated. He wanted to work at a small-town newspaper by day and pen the great Southern American novel by night.
The roads people travel are rarely the direct route they set out on.
A few months later, the kid was living in Atlanta, Georgia, and traveling to Home Depots across half the state as a vendor. During his summer in the Peach State, he got an opportunity to visit the CNN Center. It was a thing of beauty. With renewed vigor, he put in more applications at small papers. Either no one was hiring or he didn’t have the experience.
He applied for other jobs. Once he interviewed to be a used-car salesman. However, he landed a job teaching in South Korea. While imparting the few things he picked up about the English language to young minds, he began building his reputation in the WordPress community. Before leaving the country, he’d bootstrapped his own WordPress theme shop in 2008.
After 11 years, the kid stumbled upon an opportunity to join the staff at WP Tavern, a chance to combine his passion for WordPress and writing.
Now a new chapter in his life begins.
Allow Me to Introduce Myself
My name is Justin Tadlock. I’m the new staff writer for WP Tavern. It’s my hope that I can bring a different perspective and produce many engaging stories for you to read long into the future.
You’ve probably used at least a few lines of my code to run your web site. I’ve contributed to WordPress in some form or fashion since I started using the software in 2005. I formerly ran Theme Hybrid, which was one of the earliest and longest-running theme shops in the WordPress ecosystem. I also co-authored Professional WordPress Plugin Development.
Over the coming weeks and months, I plan to get to know more of you within the WordPress community. I’ve been an avid reader of WP Tavern since its inception. It’s always held a special place in my heart, and I want it to be an environment where everyone feels welcome to discuss all the things happening in the WordPress world.
It will take me a bit to get a feel for the new writing position and find my voice. I may have a few hit-or-miss stories out of the gates, but I’m always open to feedback and criticism from our readers. Ultimately, it’s my job to serve you the stories that you enjoy reading.
I’m stoked for the opportunity to get to know more of you. I want to help you share your stories. I want the community to know the people behind this platform that so many of us rely on in our personal and professional lives.
I hope I exceed your expectations for quality reporting and feature stories for WordPress. Stay tuned.