Well, as you can see, I am in the news today. In the morning you'll see a further message about me and about the editorial department from our president and publisher, Henry Haitz (I'll link when it's available). In case you
missed the news, here’s the short version: I’ll be leaving the newspaper after next
week, as my position has been eliminated in this company’s quest for deep
I’m not sure what else to tell you, or how valuable such
commentary from me would be. As y’all know, I’ve tried to keep y’all in the
loop about the profound changes going on in this business, which have been accelerating
in recent days. I’ve written about everything from the departure of my longtime
friend and colleague Mike Fitts last year, to the really horrific news sweeping
the industry in recent weeks, with some newspapers going under entirely.
This has not a comfortable thing for me to do. For one thing
– I always wonder how much my readers will care. Someone I respected in college
– actually, he taught a course in editorial writing that I took – warned us
that when one talks about one’s own industry, one runs the risk of boring one’s
For another reason, I recognize my own lack of detachment in
writing about a subject that concerns me so directly. I’ve tried to be
completely candid, but I have to wonder how successful I’ve been. Finally,
there is such a delicate balance to strike between telling all that I know or
imagine I know, which is my instinct as a journalist, and respecting the
confidentiality of things I know only because I’m an officer of this company –
which gives me both an unfair advantage and a responsibility to those I work
with. It can be awkward.
Anyway, in spite of that, I’ve tried to keep y’all
up-to-date. Last week, however, I did NOT share with you the fact that my
colleague Denny Clements, the editorial page editor of the Myrtle Beach Sun
News, was losing his position. I just felt too close to it to address it
properly. I’ve known Denney since I was the news editor of the paper in
Wichita, and he was an editorial writer there. And while he and I have not been
personally close in the intervening years, I wasn’t comfortable getting into
that. Besides, it would have raised the natural question of what the
implications were for this newspaper, and I just didn’t know enough about that
to tell you anything, so I waited until now to mention it. Here’s how Denney
told his readers about it.
Now, as you can see, Denney’s situation was VERY close to my
own. My last day is March 20.
I leave here with a deep love for this newspaper, which I
hope has been evident over the last couple of decades. It seems to have been
evident to Henry, by the kind and gracious things he had to say about my
service in his note on tomorrow’s page. And I appreciate that.
What will I do next? I don’t know. Perhaps I should post my
resume here, and see what happens.
I can tell you this much – I have zero intention of
“relocating.” When I came to the state of my birth in 1987 after years in this
business in Tennessee and Kansas, I did so with the intention of staying for
good. My days as a newspaper vagabond were over. Either things worked out at
The State, or I would find some other line of work. And the thing is, things
worked out very well. The day I was interviewed here (for the job of
governmental affair editor) I told Tom McLean that my ultimate goal was to become
editorial page editor. I believed that position offered the greatest
opportunity to serve my state, which I believed needed its largest newspaper
to have a strong, frank, lively editorial page. I got my chance 10 years later,
and I could not be more proud of the team I have had the privilege of working
with, or the excellent job they have done – and which those who remain will
continue to do, if I know them (and I do).
Obviously, this is a stressful time, but beneath it all is
something that I don’t quite know how to describe, a sort of anticipation
driven by curiosity. I wonder, with great interest, what will happen next.
(That sounds either terribly trite or unintelligible; I can’t tell which, but I
explained it as well as I could.)
Anyway, that’s all I have to say about this today. Maybe
I’ll say more some other day. Oh, and if you wonder about the future of the
blog, or whether it has one – I don’t know. That’s one of a lot of things that
need to be figured out.