On April 30 I will be retiring from the newspaper business after a total of nearly 43 years at eight different newspapers in seven different states, having spent the past almost 12 years as editor of The Monitor in McAllen, Texas. But, just because I am leaving newspapers doesn't mean that I don't still have something to say. Of course, whether anyone is interested in what I still have to say -- or ever was -- remains to be seen. However, after 43 years of being able to add your two-cents worth to the public discussion, it's hard to break the habit. It's kind of like trying to quit smoking and everyone who knows me knows how successful I've been with that.
I am not exactly sure where I am going to go with this blog, but then that is the beauty of blogs isn't it? You are on your own and can go pretty much anywhere you want whether or not anyone else really cares to follow. For me, this really is a brave new world because for the first time in 43 years I am going to be able to say exactly what I want to say without worrying whether I will get into trouble with my bosses because what I might say doesn't jibe with what my paper philosophy is and believe me, over the years THAT has been a problem. You see, I am really among the last of a disappearing breed: the actual LIBERAL newspaper editor. Yep, there, I said it -- the dreaded "L" word. For years, conservative politicians have enjoyed hiding behind the term "liberal media," using it to blame the press every time one of them steps into a pile of smelly political poop. The truth, however, is that if the media ever really was once by and large liberal, it isn't anymore -- decades of expending corporate ownership have seen to that. When and if some newspapers -- and I can only really deal with newspapers because that's where all of my experience has been -- could honestly be called "liberal" was in the days when a high percentage of them were family owned. During my career, (actually near the very start of my career) I was fortunate to work for one newspaper organization that truly was liberal, The Louisville Courier-Journal & Times -- a morning and afternoon newspaper combo owned by the Bingham family of Louisville, Ky. At the time, the Courier-Journal and its sister paper, The Louisville Times, were regarded as being among the 10 best papers in the country and were fiercely liberal, an identification that has largely disappeared in the decades since the family sold them to Gannett.
But, I digress here. This is not really supposed to be a blog about the history of newspapers or even a bemoaning of the way they have changed over the more than four decades since I started my career. At least, I don't think that is what it is about even though it may, from time to time, fall into digressions that lean in that direction.
To start this blog off, it is my intention to provide some of the memories of my 43-year career in newspapers, because most of us newsroom rats who've been in the business as long a I have have accrued some interesting memories -- it's just the sort of thing that happens when you spend as many years as I have dealing with the public and with the diverse personalities that work in the nation's newsrooms. Hopefully, those of you who -- if any of you do -- read this will find these memories interesting and in many instances fun. For any young journalist who happen upon this blog, I am hoping you find it in some way instructional and helpful.
Since I am getting way too long winded here and don't want to bore you, I am going to end this introductory first installment. With my next post, I will being my series of "Memories of a 43-year career in newspapers." Thank you for reading this all of the way to the end -- if you did. If you didn't, well, shame on me. Catch y'all later.