Tomorrow, February 24, marks the two month anniversary of my last day at the newspaper. Crazy, huh? Quit an established job, in this economy - especially when I was managing editor.
It's not so crazy if not losing your way is your highest priority.
I recently watched the movie Insomnia, starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams. The story reaffirmed again my decision to quit. At the end of the movie, Pacino, a highly respected detective, advises a young cop who is about to throw away evidence that would implicate Pacino's character in a crime: "Don't lose your way." The movies relates how Pacino's character had lost his way and had become morally corrupt, and how he came to regret it.
Don't lose your way
Keep walking in the light that you've been given. It's all the same. And hopefully one day we will all hear the Good Lord say, "Well done."
While working at the paper, especially during the last of my three and a half years, I was continually frustrated by the long hours. They really took advantage of salaried employees, who often worked from early morning to late night finding and writing the news. During the last year I was especially frustrated by an unreasonable boss and because of him, a shrinking staff. By the time I left there were eight people on the editorial staff writing for four papers. One paper was a Monday through Friday rag and the others were weekly. We could not write enough content to really keep up, and it became increasingly difficult to write anything meaningful for the community.
I had been managing editor for seven months when La Junta Mill, a local business, tried to get taxpayer money from the Urban Renewal Authority to bail them out. They were being fined by OSHA for matters of worker safety that were clearly the responsibility of management, and not an inadequate physical plant as they represented to Urban Renewal. We discovered the truth of this through a Freedom of Information Act request made not by the paper - which should have filed that request - but by Mike and I as individuals. This business wanted the taxpayers to buy their old mill for $500,000 so that they could build a new $3 million facility. They claimed that they had no money. To me it seemed like a sham pure and simple so, in order to protect the taxpayers, I published articles about the situation that had been reviewed by and approved by the publisher. Shortly thereafter, the owners of the mill came in and pulled their advertising - $10,000 worth - thus hurting the family of their ad rep and bullying the paper through economic means. Attempts at economic bullying probably happen a lot in the world of journalism. It happened twice during my last year at this paper. However, the second time the paper gave in to the bullying and I was told that I was not to publish anything related to the La Junta Mill story. It was because of this that I quit. If the free press allows people to push it around, it is no longer a free press. It becomes a public relations firm.
In the newspaper business, I was constantly reminded that there are many people who cannot speak up or stand up for themselves. Those were the people for whom I tried to write - people like the La Junta taxpayers who might have paid for an employer's outright negligence or drivers on U.S. Highway 50 who were endangered by a company that refused to follow the law and repeatedly caused a road hazard when their gravel trucks entered a two-lane highway without access lanes. As editor I tried to encourage my reporter to write for these people as well.
Help along the way
Not only have I received encouragement for my decision from those closest to me, but Cameron Strang, editor and publisher of Relevant magazine wrote an editorial for the January issue that was quite timely indeed. You can read it here, but basically, Strang told his readers that editorial content was already decided for an issue before his crew sought advertising. He told readers that he wouldn't allow content to be influenced by advertising, which is good because Relevant often covers issues that are controversial in order to encourage its readers to to live like Christ in a world gone mad. As it turns out, God seems to be blessing Strang's decision. The magazine, which is geared toward 20 somethings and older people like me who are recovering fundamentalists, seems to have a variety of advertisers, including some that are well known throughout Christendom.
What I'm doing now ...
Now that I am not working 12 to 14 hour days, for the last two months I have been tossing around ideas about what to do and trying to find my way. Although at times I felt like I was lost, I had not been, not really. I have been at a fork in the road. I stopped writing on the blog for a while because I had no idea what to say. I was cooling off. I have kept myself busy though. I have written six articles for Suite101.com and I am working on starting a business. There will be more on the business as it develops, but here are links to my articles:
Cinema classics provide inspiration before and during Lent
Bernard of Clairvaux Described Stages of Christian Love
Francis de Sales on the Devout Life
Rural Colorado School Implements Prevention Program
Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site Resonates with History
Is Being Green Wrong for Christians?
I hope to develop this blog more closely now. I want to use it as a help for people who are trying to find their way. By doing this, I hope that the blog will be more personal and useful. Here are some books that I am reading that I plan to comment on in the near future:
Condoleezza Rice: A memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me. A good read for Black History Month during February.
Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals
The Resurrection of the Son of God (Along with the bibliography, this book is more than 800 pages. We'll see if I finish it!)
And my Sunday Discussion Group is reading Devotional Classics: Selected Reading for Individuals and Groups.
I also like to read hobby books and magazines. Right now I am thumbing through:
The Complete Guide to Rubber Stamping
Green Craft Magazine" Vol. 4
so the blog will cover a little more than religious topics since my business will be centered on freelancing and crafting.
Other magazines I read regularly and that may induce comment from time to time are:
Taste of Home
My goal is to review as I read for your benefit and for mine. I've always loved to read. Who knew that one day I'd blog about it? Well, enough for today. God bless!