In a world where relationships are often strained, even severed, stories in a newspaper about people can still reveal meaning. Or bring emotions like crying, laughter and empathy.
"We no longer connect in this world," veteran Oregonian reporter Tom Hallman Jr. observed at the Nov. 16th Portland Pearl Rotary meeting. "My stories help people connect."
Despite "this dark, divisive time," Hallman, at age 66, continues seeking stories others often don't see--"stories offer hope on how we live…or want to live." His people features, often on the front page of Sunday Oregonians, seek to define purpose, meaning and truth. He seeks this about his subjects: "Did he make a difference in the world? The stories reflect that."
A key to his success (in a four-decade career which includes a Pulitzer for feature writing in 2001) is an ear to what his subjects relate: "What I do is listen; most people don't listen."
He shared one vignette about an assignment to cover a Lewis and Clark graduation. He discovered the unexpected: a campus janitor who was receiving his college diploma. Hallman cited this episode as "more than a simple story, but a parable."
Typical of his writing is Hallman's latest Oregonian submission (Nov. 21) on a Medford woman who leads a non-profit (Maslow Project, headlined "A lifeline to homeless youth, families"). Perhaps Hallman saw himself in leader Mary Ferrell who said of the young people Maslow serves: "We have a real conversation with them, very unofficial. We work in a way that works for kids."
In addition to stories for the daily newspaper, Hallman has produced three books. They are available--along with entries about his journalistic journey--at his blog (tomhallman.com).