Reading Doug Thompson on Veterans Day

Update: Doug’s condition was listed as “good” after 20 days in the hospital, according to a page one story in the Roanoke Times on Dec.2, with a cautionary line that the term is relative, and that he is in need of much healing.

Doug Thompson, photojournalist, video producer, author of and creator of was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident on Friday. I want you to meet him.

Here’s a video by Doug about the Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and his article about it: The Sound of Thunder, posted at the Roanoke Valley Harley Owner’s Group, one of many Web sites where he’s the man  behind the curtain.

I met Doug shortly after I moved to southwest Virginia, and over the years have talked with him about journalism, the Web, cameras, music and  politics in a dozen or three conversations at the Floyd Country Store or at the photo studio he used to have nearby. We usually just run into each other, but I did manage to get him to Radford to talk to my journalism students a couple of times. I was hoping to do that again this semester. I’m still hoping to do that again. For now, while he’s in the hospital, students will have to settle for exploring his work…

Here’s what his home page says about him:

“Newspaperman, writer, photographer, videographer, documentary filmmaker, political operative (briefly) and motorcyclist.
It’s hard to put a handle on Doug Thompson. He sold his first story and photographs to a newspaper at age 12, became a full-time daily newspaper reporter at 17, columnist at 19 and city editor at 25.
Today, at 64, he continues to explore the medium with pointed, often acerbic opinion pieces, photography and films.”

True enough. His last post at was about his new iPhone and the serious photojournalists creating, as his headline said, iPhotojournalism.  My students should read it, and the variety of stories on BlueRidgeMuse and below.

Friday’s accident involved a cow. A little over a year ago, Doug had a close encounter with deer in the road. He wrote about it under the headline Somebody was watching over me.  I’m hoping he recovers soon and fully… to write another “Someone was watching over…” This time it should include the irony of writing on Nov. 8 about preparing to put his bike in the shop for a 100,000-mile tuneup and titling the piece “How many miles to go before I sleep?” He also should have fun with the fact that for all his professional photojournalist credentials, his last Facebook post before the accident was a “cute cat” photo. (Cat in a motorcycle helmet and goggles.)

I didn’t know he was such a Facebook user, because Doug’s productivity on all of his own sites is so impressive: News, photos, video (especially Floyd High School sports, FloydFest  and Floyd’s old-time music scene), and politics. Here’s his most recent piece on this month’s election, in Capitol Hill Blue, a political website he pioneered in 1994: The voters have spoken, but Republicans may be too deaf to hear (Nov. 7, 2012)

Last, and only least so that folks who scan to the end will see it and read it, here’s a fine story Doug wrote about his amazing mother and her history with motorcycles. She passed away in August: A life well lived.

mild-mannered reporter who found computers & the Web in grad school in the 1980s (Wesleyan) and '90s (UNC); taught journalism, media studies, Web production; retired to write, make music, photograph sunsets & walks in the woods.

Posted in communication, community, Floyd, Journalism, personal, photography, Roanoke Times, storytelling

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