Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What are you fighting for?

I understand the question. I really do.
Those who have heard about the Ann Arbor News closing have asked me if I am going to do something new.
It's a fair question. One of I have considered hundreds of times.
At times, it seems logical that I would move on to a new career, leaving behind 17 years of wonderful memories of stories I've written, places I have visited.
I think back to my first job. A courts and cops reporting job that threw me into the world of reporting head-first.
I remember sitting in a small courtroom in a historic courthouse, sitting through a week-long rape trial. 
Every I story I wrote was re-written by an editor who knew the area better and had the luxury of knowing the history of the case.
As frustrated as I was having my work torn apart, it pushed me to get to the point where editors changed words or punctuation marks. Not sentences or complete paragraphs.
Seventeen years later, I am still learning. Still yearning to write stories that people remember. To tell stories in ways people will talk about the next day at work. 
I read other people's work and see what is possible when words and reporting come together the right way.
So am I ready to give up the fight? Not in the least.
Not when I am getting closer to the goal I have always held for myself.

Signing on the dotted line

I knew this day was coming.
The email arrived almost two weeks ago, alerting Ann Arbor News employees that, within the next day or two, a letter containing the details of our severance package would be coming in the mail.
Two days later, two envelopes – one containing a letter from publisher Laurel Champion, the other holding the terms of my severance – came in the Saturday mail.
There, in contract form, where the specifics of my departure from the newspaper where I have spent nearly the past five years of my career.
In previous weeks, I had done my best to focus on life after The Ann Arbor News. What would I do? Where would I work? Where would money come from?
But as I read through the contents of the two envelopes, one thing came to mind. 
This was a short-term fix. Short-term meaning a matter of weeks that I could expect to continue receiving money from the newspaper.
Within five weeks, the money would stop, the benefits would disappear and if, I hadn't found my next career stop, we would be on our own.
Earlier this week, I sat in an hour-long meeting. My co-workers and I sat in a large conference room having our severance packages explained to us by the publisher and head of human resources.
There were questions. Concerns. Frustrations.
Ah, to be right in the middle of limbo once again.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Just starting out

So maybe 12:30 a.m. isn't the best time to start a blog.
But for nearly two months - ever since the publisher of my newspaper walked into a conference room on a Monday morning and announced that come July, our 174-year-old paper would cease to exist – this has been on my mind.
For much of my adult existence, newspaper has been my life.
Started on cops and courts. Moved onto general assignment. Jumped to sports. Moved to California. Stayed in sports, took a break from the business, jumped back into sports and reached what I thought was the place I wanted to be.
But after 1 1/2 years of working for a bureau of the L.A. Times, something happened that changed the way I looked at my career and where I was going.
More on that later.
So I moved again. This time to Tennessee, where I worked as in sports. Moved to Missouri to go to toughen up as an investigative reporter. Got married and moved back to Michigan, where my career had begun some 12 years before.
Nearly five years later, I am about to turn 40 with the industry I love in serious jeopardy. Most of my friends have bailed from what, on days, appears to be a sinking ship.
But I choose to stay on deck, listening to the band play, "Nearer My God to Thee."
What is ahead isn't quite clear.
So if you are up for the ride, climb on board and follow me into the next chapter of my life.
Who knows, riding out the story could prove to be the adventure of a lifetime.