You’ve no doubt said it yourself: Time flies when you’re having fun.
I know how it goes.
In a couple of days, I’ll be celebrating an anniversary I never saw coming. On Aug. 30, 2012, I was told that my duties as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News would be handled by someone else. I barely knew the fellow who gave me the news. He was the then-vice president for audience at the newspaper. He’d been hired to fill a newly created position and had been on the job for about two months.
He broke the news to me: “There’s no easy to way to tell you this, but we’ve offered your job to someone else and he accepted.” I asked who it was. He told me.
This was the culmination of a “restructuring” or “reorganization” that the newspaper had initiated. My formerly autonomous department had been rolled into the newsroom operation. Everyone’s job descriptions had been reworked. I looked at my new description and thought, “Yeah, I can do this.” We were invited to apply for any job we wanted and were asked to list two “alternate” posts for which we could apply in case we didn’t get Job One.
I thought, “Hey, I’ve been doing this job for 17-plus years. I can do what they’re asking me to do.”
I was the only one involved directly in this decision who harbored that thought. The VP/audience dropped the bomb in my lap. I sat there, stunned. I caught my breath, said something to him I don’t dare repeat here, walked into my office and called my wife, then my sons. The message was the same to all of them: I’m out.
I went home. Slept well that night. Came back early the next morning and cleared out my office. Rather than apply for another job and hope that lightning would strike and I would get it, I quit. I was qualified to do one thing at the newspaper and I thought I did it pretty well. I’d had an enormously fruitful and moderately successful career over the total span of 37 years.
As near as I can recall, I was the first casualty of this “restructuring.” I was gone, out the door. (Here’s the hilarious aside: The VP/audience quit his job about a week after I walked out and returned to his old employer, the Las Vegas Sun. Suffice to say the individual who runs the Globe-News was not a happy man. My reaction when I got the news? Karma’s a bitch, ain’t it?)
Why recall all this today? Well, I guess it’s time to air it out just a little. I won’t waste any effort telling you about the anger I felt at that very moment toward a number of people. Most of that anger has subsided. Some of it remains.
My prevailing attitude, though, is one of thankfulness. I’m thankful to be gone. I hated that my newspaper career ended the way it did. I was hoping for a cake and a party where some folks would say some nice things to me, thank me for my service and my dedication to our craft. Hey, not every dream comes true.
Time flies, yes?
Since then, I’ve discovered a wonderful new life. Semi-retirement is better than I thought. I’ve found new life as a blogger. I’m working part-time for an auto dealer and writing a blog for Panhandle PBS, a gig I started almost immediately after leaving the newspaper. The Panhandle PBS assignment has changed and grown a bit in recent weeks and my hope is that it will continue to grow.
I offer this essay to those who might worry about their future in print journalism. The landscape is changing right under their feet. More papers are going “digital” in their effort to report the news and comment on issues of the day. I was told the Globe-News would be embarking in a “radical new direction.”
My employer said, in effect, that I was ill-suited to take part in that journey. I had reminded him a day or two earlier that journalism today bears little resemblance to what it was when I started out in the 1970s and that the changes he was seeking amounted to a tiny fraction of what I’d already been through. That was my way of saying: I can do whatever you want me to do. Well, that plea fell on deaf ears.
What’s in store for others who are still toiling in daily print journalism? That remains a mystery.
Know this, though. If this old geezer can adapt to a new life rapidly after being punched in the gut, then there’s hope for virtually everyone else facing the uncertainty of a changing profession.
Time has flown by for me the past two years. I’m having the time of my life.