My Facebook post was intentionally cryptic, just two words: “Ah, retirement.”
Many of the responses were eye-rolling – I’m not that old – or puzzled. Most, I think, didn’t take me seriously, which isn’t unusual as I spend a great deal of time not being serious.
In this case, though, I am serious. In the next few weeks, depending on the transition, I’ll be retiring from the news business and starting a second career in non-profits - specifically, with Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA.
Goodwill is an organization I’ve admired for years, one that more than a decade ago I served as a business advisory council board member. I had occasionally said to my wife that if I one day decided to leave journalism, I might like to work for Goodwill. Founded by a Methodist minister, Goodwill does amazing work in bringing people to self-sufficiency - giving them a hand up, not a handout, as they say.
So when the opportunity arose, I was honored to be offered the position as senior director of marketing and communications for our district’s massive Goodwill, which basically operates from Aiken to Macon. I’ve accepted and will start soon once we work out the details of my departure from The News-Times.
And that brings us here. Opening the door to a new opportunity means walking away from my current career, one I’ve built in the media for 30 years as of this year. The number 30 is significant: that’s when teachers typically plan their retirement. That’s why I’m considering this not just a job change, but a retirement from one career and the beginning of another.
There will be time for goodbyes and thank-yous later. For now, the main thing is just to get the word out: that soon I’ll no longer be leading The News-Times. I won’t be writing editorials or twice-weekly columns or news stories. I might still write my blog for beginning runners, but that will depend on The Chronicle and whether it’s OK with my new employer.
That’s exceptionally difficult to walk away from. After all, I’ve been at The News-Times for 16 years. I’ve poured heart and soul into it. After more than 1,600 columns, many of which have been part of winning repeated state titles from the Georgia Press Association, that part of my life now just goes away. Maybe that will persuade me to do what many people have urged over the years: to compile a “best-of” book.
Personally, I can’t imagine such a thing being marketable. But I do know I get tremendously positive responses from some commentaries, and sharing them has been gratifying.
Ever since my fifth-grade teacher admiringly read an essay of mine to classmates, I’ve felt that I could use any writing talent I might have to inform and entertain people in our community. I hope I’ve done so, and apologize anywhere I failed. The latter was never for lack of trying.
In any event, I’ll soon be off to a new adventure. Wish me luck.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-868-1222, ext. 106. Follow at www.twitter.com/