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Writing for a lifetime

From writing stories about deadly car crashes to a woman named Elvis Presley, reporter Bryan McKenzie has experienced quite his share of stories in his 33 years of writing.

Once a full-time columnist, McKenzie now writes two articles a week for The Daily Progress in Charlottesville, Va., covering just about anything.

Originally from Lansing, Mich., McKenzie enjoyed reading his local newspaper at an early age. With role models like Mark Twain, local professional journalists and his father, McKenzie always had an idea of what he wanted in life.

“You have to have integrity, boy,” his father always said.

At age 6, he dreamed of a career in law enforcement, like his father. Then, seventh grade brought new dreams of stardom as a rock star or novelist.

“If I could be a cop [or a] rock star who writes, that would be great,” he said.

By eighth grade, McKenzie knew exactly what he wanted to do in life and that was to write.

“I was nosey … I liked to BS people and write, so I knew I could do all of this together,” McKenzie said.

After obtaining an associate’s degree at Lansing Community College, he went on to receive his bachelor’s in journalism and political science at the University of Minnesota.

Living in many different places after graduation, McKenzie never thought he would write for the Daily Progress in Charlottesville, where he has lived for the last 21 years.

“I thought I would be working for the Washington Post,” he said.

When preparing for an article, McKenzie does a Google search of the topic at hand. Depending on the subject, he might do a criminal history check to gather more information. Before the rise of the Internet, he used to sit down and make a list of questions to ask individuals.

“I hoped to be doing something fun like this,” he said.

Other than writing, McKenzie enjoys teaching others by instructing tai chi classes at the senior center and teaching Harley Davidson motorcycle classes in Albemarle and Staunton. Also, during his downtime McKenzie enjoys playing bass guitar, cooking and practicing other forms of martial arts.

“I think that when people remember what you do [that] is a good accomplishment,” he said.

Through his work, McKenzie is remembered by his readers.

“I really enjoy reading his work online,” said Kelley Cutshall, reader of the Daily Progress. “It’s easy to find and fulfills my news needs.”

With hopes to stay employed and retire in the future, he feels that there isn’t much he hasn’t covered. He said he will always look for that one thing that he hasn’t done and to say, “Hey! I know something about this.”



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