This is the first time I “pen” something since dropping the mic and walking away from my nearly 17 year career as a journalist at a daily newspaper in my once hometown of McAllen.
It wasn’t sad for me to do so, especially so suddenly, and especially doing so without a new job in line or any prospects. I was tired. My body was wearing out. The joy of being a journalist was broken. It wasn’t any one issue that made me pull the trigger on my exit, but a series of things that I didn’t like where this business was headed.
It was years in the making.
There was a final straw — the same one that broke the camel’s back. I won’t get into details because that would be unprofessional. I will say the profession, at least at our daily, started to become more of a product that a newspaper.
Now, I’m not a dummy. I know newspapers’ primary goal is to make money. But I have always felt that was the advertising, marketing and classified ads departments’ responsibility. I didn’t think that, for every idea I had I would need to come up with a way to sell it to advertisers.
OK. I lied, I did get slightly specific.
The mood in the newsroom became, if you could paint a picture, a scene from the walking dead. Namely the part where the zombies are walking around speechless. It just no longer became fun. So I left.
It’s scary now. I’m trying like hell to find freelance jobs (it’s too early for me to enter an environment with cubicles, punch cards and meetings), but they’re coming slowly. Too slow, although it’s only been two weeks.
The first 10 years of my time there were a joy. I worked my way from sports freelancer, to part-time writer, to full-time sports writer, to deputy sports editor to sports editor to presentation editor to this odd title of “Director of Visual Content and Operations (including sports and new media).”
Basically I absorbed the duties of my good friend and former Director of Sports and New Media, and a colleague that was the Director of … I don’t remember what.
It was, for the most part, a wonderfully challenging profession. But I just couldn’t continue. My heart wasn’t in it. Perhaps I need a different environment. Perhaps I need a different career. Perhaps I need to win the lottery.
I’ll spend the next month trying to figure that out.