Gerald Moore didn’t start out to be a news guy, although he says in his recently-published autobiography LIFE Story: The Education of an American Journalist, growing up in the small town of Tucumcari on the prairie of Eastern New Mexico, did inculcate in him the newsperson’s ethic: be where it’s happening, where thoughts, events and conflicts can grow you.
Which is why, without an ounce of printer’s ink in his veins, or a press card in his hat, Moore moved himself from Tucumcari (and doesn’t this state have the greatest place names?) to Albuquerque, to the University of New Mexico, to bumming around old Mexico to studying abroad in Europe, with the studying part not much happening.
News as a business is a unique mix of high adventure, low company, and extracting the extraordinary from the events of every day. What better preparation for journalism than two years as an Albuquerque Police Officer?…and what better motivation to become a cop than that it was one of Albuquerque’s few jobs with a night shift that could accommodate an impoverished daytime college student?
LIFE Story is a book filled with the honesty of mixed motivations, mixed results, for mixed reasons. It is also filled with the joy of discovery, or of observing discovery, or writing wrongs and of being overcome by them.
It’s also the story of a journalistic career on a dramatic upward trajectory, in a specific part of the news industry hitting a major downdraft, a career that was exciting, fulfilling, even obsessive at times, and perhaps for all of those reasons, surprisingly brief. What newsman Gerald Moore was able to see and do in little more than a decade covered by the book is remarkable, especially considering that when he had to forsake his beloved title, “I’m Gerald Moore of LIFE Magazine,” he was not yet 35 years old.
LIFE Story: The Education of an American Journalist