For a while there, I was a stringer. The expression comes from the old habit of stringing together the column inches that you had written. They'd measure it and pay you 10 cents an inch for your printed copy.
I saw how many people were poor and how many kids my age went to school hungry in the morning, which I don't think most of my contemporaries in racially segregated schools in the South thought very much about at the time.
I recognize that I had a good deal of good luck in my life. I came along at a time when it was pretty easy to get a job in journalism. I went to work at CBS News when I was about 22, and within a year or so was reporting on the air.