By the time many of you read this I will no longer be a journalist. Growing up, there were only a handful of things I ever really wanted to be: a private detective, thanks to Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew and, much later, Veronica Mars; an archaeologist, thanks to Indiana Jones; and a reporter, thanks to who knows what. Instinct? Talent? Foolishness?
I’ve been a writer as long as I can remember. The first “published” work I can recall is when I wrote a Christmas play in third grade for my Brownie troop and cast myself as an angel; so obviously you’ll understand this play wasn’t a memoir. I continued reading, and writing, most often during classes I was bored in and several of the first pieces that won awards were written during math or French (apologies to mom and dad just in case they hadn’t figured that out.) In high school, I was the first person to ever be selected for both the literary magazine and the newspaper and I did it as a sophomore.
Also in high school, I pointed at a page in “The Huntsville Times” that was currently being written by Ann Marie Martin and said, “THAT’S the job I want when I grow up.” My passion for the written word intensified in college when I interned at a TV station and, while still in college, was hired to do graphics and script writing for the weekend newscasts. I also acted as Chief Photographer and News Editor for the university paper. Years later, when I was working as a corporate event manager, I was also writing for a local society and culture magazine when I got an email from “The Huntsville Times” and went in to interview for my dream job. (To be fair, I first suspected they were interested in me writing some sort of humor column.) In many ways, writing about things are the only way I know how to process them.
After a few months of doing double duty, I gave up my corporate job for the lesser paying, job of my dreams. Because sometimes, if you’re very lucky and have a bit of faith and are blessed with the freedom that only comes from a truly supportive partner, dreams do come true. Had you asked me even two months ago if I would ever leave The Times, I would have immediately responded no. I loved my job. I loved The Times and I absolutely adored the people. Journalists, and I am honored to have been able to count myself amongst them for the past several years although in many ways I will never quite compare, are an immensely interesting species. Always smart, sometimes sarcastic and more often than not, funnier beyond what you can imagine–there simply is no finer group with which to be surrounded. Make no mistake: nobody, unless they were seriously lied to or suffering delusions, goes into the news business because they want to make a bunch of money. It’s a hard, often thankless job that involves long hours, crazy schedules, deadlines and an uncertainty of what will happen day-to-day. Accidents, scandals, fires, loss, devastation and, at times, joy become part of a daily routine.
Recently my colleagues and I went from being the reporters of uncertainty to being the subject of news reports when the change from a daily print edition to a three days a week print edition was announced. Several weeks later a gaggle of wordsmiths were left grasping for them as our newsroom suffered drastic cuts, going from roughly 57 employees to 12. I was out-of-town when I learned that I was one of the ones who didn’t make the cut and when I returned, decided to turn in my two-week notice. There will be new positions of course but I don’t know that things will ever be the same. I’ve said before that sometimes the people you miss the most aren’t really who you’re missing; you’re just desperately aching for who they used to be. And I guess I feel that way about the news business: I miss who it used to be.
In my three years at the paper and in my position as City Life Columnist, I was honored to be able to cover people at their very best. I remain in awe of our community and the countless people and organizations who work so hard to develop, protect, improve and, yes, celebrate our unique, dynamic and sometimes flamboyant southern city and lifestyle.