Way back when I started in journalism, I used to tell people that I loved it, but it didn’t love me. Today I got the Dear John note.
I thought about crying, but then asked myself what that would accomplish?
Not much. Besides, I’m more apt to cry tears of joy.
So let's fire up the blog.
It’s too easy to lay blame for this:
- A generation of journalists far more comfortable with making videos and clicky-things.
- Bosses who took opportunities and resources away while asking more.
- Myself, for not making the most of whatever opportunities I may have had. Or for failing to realize them at the time they were offered.
- A group of people who want news only after the fact, once the bad thing has happened.
… but hindsight doesn’t do much to salve the weary soul, and as a friend of mine once said, you can’t go forward while looking back. I doubt that the cold world of business much cares about the feelings of reporters who just got laid off. Subscribers probably don’t much either.
For those that do, keep reading.
My entire professional career has been dedicated to news. I was able to ride talent for a long while, and then learned how hard work added to that. And I’ve had so many editors and teachers help along the way. They are too many to list, but they put the hours in by my side editing and shaping and kicking my ass into gear when needed. The sum of their effort is evidenced in any accolades I’ve received as a reporter, and even in the small daily briefs that must feed the beast. Thank you.
I never made much money, but I was never in it for the money. I loved the story. I loved talking to people and telling theirs. I got to hold those in power up for truthful examination. I told the stories of some of the most trying times in a person’s life - the death of a child, watching industry fade, the loss of a championship game. And countless layoffs.
Now I’m on the other side of a layoff, and it’s hard to not feel like a loser. The sweat and tears - yes, there were some - put into a career matter so little right now. I want to ask why it happened, but that’s futile. And I don’t care. I’ve been dumped before, and I can’t spend time thinking like that. I had a sense, and people in news will understand this, that the other shoe was about to drop at any moment anyway. I want to be angry, and probably will be at some point, but I’ll get that out during my next long run. It's not like I got kicked out of journalism, just a job at a newspaper. (it still sucks)
The people I’m leaving in the newsroom are dedicated, capable and carry talent and skill that they bring to the job every day. They're servants of the community with equal parts heart and cynicism. They’ll end up doing plenty of good journalism - when afforded the chance.
And there’s a light feeling coming to me. I may get to have an opinion again, once I figure out what that is. I can contribute to causes and volunteer. This will bring out parts of me that journalism didn’t allow to flourish under the rule of objectivity. That said, don't expect me to light up social media with memes and other schlock. You're too good for that.
For now here’s my affirmation: You’re a reporter, dammit, go get the story.
Now the story is whatever I want it to be.