There once was a time not long after my wife and I embarked on our retirement journey that I would want to cling to the career I left behind. I would want to keep looking back on the fun I had pursuing a craft I loved and remembering the people with whom I worked and laughed.
That was then.
Now, let me be clear about something. I enjoyed many, many wonderful relationships during my 37 years as a newspaper reporter, editor and opinion writer. I have maintained many of those relationships over that span of time. These are wonderful people and I count some of them as my dearest friends on Earth.
But my last stop on my professional journey has left me with terribly mixed feelings. Not about the people with whom I worked, but about the organization I departed.
My departure from journalism was an unhappy one. You know about that already. The Amarillo Globe-News was my employer for far longer than any other newspaper during my career. I worked there for nearly 18 years.
I walked away from that job on Aug. 31, 2012. My wife and I got into our car and drove east on vacation. We spent a couple of weeks seeing dear friends and enjoying the sights of the Shenandoah Valley and all the landscape between the Texas Panhandle and our destination.
I clung for a good while to my relationships at the Globe-News. Then it all started to disappear before my eyes. Longtime colleagues left. They retired, or were “bought out,” or they moved on. The newspaper instituted a no-hire policy. The ranks of the Globe-News dwindled … and dwindled some more.
It wasn’t too many years after my own unceremonious departure that nearly the last of my colleagues had departed. The news staff had been reduced to a tiny fraction of its former size.
The company that owned the Globe-News, Morris Communications, sold its entire group of newspapers to GateHouse Media. Strange, given that Morris used to boast about its longstanding “newspaper tradition” and the “love” it had for the communities it served.
Today, the Globe-News operates out of an office in a bank tower. The building that housed the Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper is vacant. One former colleague remains on staff there; he is a sports reporter/editor, the only person covering sports in a region the newspaper used to blanket with coverage.
The executive editor splits her time between Amarillo and Lubbock, as does the director of commentary. There are two general assignment reporters, down from more than 40 individuals who used to work there.
I have moved away. I have moved on. I no longer miss the newspaper, because the organization that used to pay me no longer exists.
It’s a weird sort of out-of-body experience I am feeling these days. I am now totally disconnected from the company that once filled me with pride.
However, I have never been happier than I am at this very moment.