There are an untold number of things I will miss about leaving behind a career in journalism. Those “things” almost all are people.
You can’t be in this business without interacting with a tremendous number of people. That’s healthy for me, because I’m naturally very introverted; I could easily be a hermit. I have to work at the interaction more than those who are inexplicably gregarious.
Those interactions, whether with the wonderful people I work with on a daily basis or the individual contacts with citizens, are endlessly fascinating.
But while I will miss them greatly, there also are a ton of things about this business that I will not miss. Here are a few of both.
I’ll miss talking to students on their school’s career day, or in classes (rare these days) working on producing a school newspaper.
I won’t miss hearing from the parents of misbehaving students haranguing me for putting their kid’s name in the paper after their arrest.
I’ll miss the friends and readers who stop by the office to chat. I won’t miss the ones who seem oblivious to the fact that, in a working environment, such chats need to be kept short.
I’ll miss being on the edge of developing news stories, especially adrenaline-inducing breaking news. I won’t miss endlessly worrying about whether I know, or am related to, unidentified people hurt or killed in accidents. I also won’t miss the ill-will comments from people who believe journalists are heartless and cruel because of the things our jobs require us to report.
I’ll miss the creative discussions about the media and its future. I won’t miss the know-it-alls who don’t have a clue but seem to feel obligated to share their ignorance. (Did you ever notice that? The less someone knows, the more inclined they seem to be to share.)
I’ll miss all the appreciative people who are thrilled when their community paper publishes a child’s drawing or photo or milestone achievement. I won’t miss the people who submit something for publication, and then a couple of weeks later asking when it will run – having missed its publication because they don’t actually read the paper. Or the people who submit something and then pester us endlessly about when it will run without regard to the fact that we have just two bites at the printed apple per week. Or the people who want us to publish a photo, but rather than send a photo send us a dozen photos and ask us to choose one.
I’ll miss all the thoughtfully written letters to the editor, guest columns and other commentaries. I won’t miss the self-serving advertising pieces thinly disguised as “news” from pushy commercial purveyors.
I won’t miss all the boring government meetings, but I will miss keeping up with the details of the governance of my community that I’ve gathered through attending all those boring government meetings.
I’ll miss seeing my byline in print; even after all these years, that’s still an ego-boosting thrill. I won’t miss seeing my name connected to a story that reads like a ham-fisted, tin-eared editor attacked it with a chain saw – or worse, one in which I made a bonehead error.
I told someone this past week that all the congratulatory calls and emails have been like having a funeral without dying. I can only hope, when I actually depart this earth, that my family gets to hear half the nice things that I’ve heard.
And I hope they spell everything correctly in the obituary.
(Barry L. Paschal is retiring from journalism as publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Follow at www.twitter.com/barrypaschal.)