I have worked in professional newsrooms since 1984 — my junior year of college, when I would work deadline for the Daily Journal, then a P.M. paper, in Franklin, Ind., and take afternoon classes at Franklin College. I still vividly remember the chaos of ripping up the front and jump pages when the space shuttle Challenger exploded.
But a new opportunity presented itself and after more than 25 years in daily journalism, I am leaving the newsroom to become communications director for Sedalia (Mo.) School District 200; as part of the job I will teach a high school-level journalism class, and I am hopeful that the Sedalia Democrat will allow me to continue to write a weekly column about local people and issues.
I’ve really had only three jobs in my lifetime: I’ve been a caddy at Gary (Ind.) Country Club, a cook at McDonald’s (before the days of microwave ovens) and a journalist. My mom always thought I would eventually become a teacher in some capacity; this just proves that mom is always right.
I won’t miss the 70-hour work weeks, dealing with too-thin budgets and trying to explain why you not getting your way doesn’t always constitute a news story. I will miss all the characters in the newsroom and getting the opportunity to tell the story accurately and first — priorities in that order.
I still believe in the power of the story, and the ability of daily journalism to bring communities together and move them forward in positive directions. Newspapers have given me a lifetime of memorable experiences and friends I will cherish forever. But now, it it time for this old dog to learn some new tricks.
In my new job, I will provide a better, more consistent flow of information from the Sedalia district to students, parents and the community; I also will help foster better communication among the district’s nine buildings and the central office.
I am excited, and terrified, about this life change. But that’s what will keep my adrenaline pumping as I develop new skills and learn from a new group of mentors.