After almost two dozen years in the newspaper business, there aren’t a lot of firsts left for me.

After almost two dozen years in the newspaper business, there aren’t a lot of firsts left for me.

However, while talking to a third grade class Thursday morning, I heard a phrase I had never heard before.

“Wow, it’s so cool to meet a real newspaper man,” one of the boys said. He even gave me a hug in the hall on my way back to my truck.

I have been doing talks like this to classrooms and community groups for more than two decades. I must finally be getting better at it.

This class was really fun. They had some of our old newspapers and some new ones in their classroom for the past week.

We talked about what makes something news and why people buy advertisements in newspapers. We even had a little history lesson about newspapers.

When I had them guess when the first newspaper was printed in Shawnee, one guessed 1994. I had to tell her I have been working for newspapers longer than that.

“Are you that old?” she asked. Unfortunately, I am.

I told them the correct answer was 100 years before that in 1894.

“Were you alive then?” one boy asked. No. I was not.

I decided to assume that he hadn’t done the math on how long ago that was and not take it too personally.

We had a great time talking about how you make a newspaper from deciding what stories to cover to how you would print and deliver the newspaper. When I left, they were ready to go for their first Pulitzer Prize.

There is nothing like seeing the looks on little faces when you talk about newspapers to children who have seen mom and dad read them but didn’t really understand why it was a big deal before.

One of my friends on social media wondered if the boy thought it was cool to meet a newspaper man because we are like dinosaurs and becoming more endangered every day.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. Newspapers aren’t dying. Readership isn’t as simple as average daily circulation anymore. We have our own websites, apps, social media pages and, of course, we still have a vibrant print product.

We’re changing. But we aren’t dying.

People who say the internet is causing problems for our industry are partially correct. There are a lot of voices seeking an audience to hear their news. But newspapers are still among the loudest voices, even online. Our digital readership is growing fast enough that it may soon match our readership in print.

Can you imagine reading the news on the internet if there were no newspapers online? It would be pretty light reading.

For a dying industry, there certainly have been a huge majority of stories broken by print reporters in the 2016 campaign cycle.

I’m glad one little boy thought it was cool to meet “a real newspaper man” Thursday morning. I thought it was pretty cool getting to talk to them and remember why we do what we do every day.

After more than 20 years, I still get excited to see big stories published. Whether that publication is online or in print, knowing that we touch readers’ lives is a huge honor and responsibility.

A real newspaper man doesn’t take that lightly. I know I don’t.