(The following post originally appeared in Barbara Lombardo’s Fresh Ink column with The Saratogian.)
This afternoon I’ll help put together The Saratogian’s Pink Sheet racing section for Opening Day at Saratoga Race Course, and then call it a day for the final time – ending 38 years at my full-time workplace since grad school.
I was in college during the Vietnam War and Watergate and was stirred by the power of the press to do good. I discovered journalism was fun, and I was good at it.
I lucked out landing a reporting job at The Saratogian (where Linda Glazer Toohey was my first of 11 publishers) and rose up the ranks in a great place to live and work. Christy Bulkeley made me one of the few women managing editors in the country; there was never a line at the ladies room during national editors’ conferences.
I’ve loved most of the job: the chase of a “good” story, depth reporting and strong writing, news that somehow makes a difference, the simple joy a well-written headline that fits in print, helping staffers improve their craft, the hectic deadline-driven environment, meeting interesting people who do amazing things, getting to know (at least a little) about a lot of stuff.
After years of running The Saratogian newsroom, I was promoted in 2014 to be top editor also of our sister paper, The Record, merging the two newsrooms into a single reporting and editing operation and striving to serve the audiences of both dailies, not to mention the readers of our weekly Community News in southern Saratoga County.
But that consolidation was nothing compared to the single most exciting – and challenging – change in the news business during my career: the Internet.
It is fantastic to be able to report any time, from any place (with an Internet connection), unshackled by the constraints of a press. I love that content can be delivered to your phone. The challenge for news companies is to keep that content coming, and for the public to be savvy consumers of reliable news sources.
My belief in the importance of reporting – regardless of how it’s published – is as robust as it was four decades ago when I caught the journalism bug. When the company made its recent offer to accept voluntary layoffs, it felt like the right time for me to move on, allowing Louise Kilbara in advertising to continue her unchallengeable reign as the longest-tenured employee. I have tremendous faith in our products and staff in all the departments here at The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News.
When people ask me, “What are you going to do,” I offer the same reply my husband and I gave our first-born when he wanted to know what we did for the first nine years of marriage before he came along: Have fun.
I will continue to teach a journalism class at the University at Albany, which I’ve been doing since 2008. I intend to get back to writing regularly. I will continue my volunteer work. I will no longer have lack of time as an excuse for the condition of my garden, my tennis game and my gut.
Before signing off, I want to tell you that I feel bad, to varying degrees, that I:
• Praised deserving staff members too infrequently.
• Didn’t write more.
• Sometimes caused inadvertent pain for people in the news and their loved ones, an occupational hazard for journalists.
• Might lose touch with people in the community who have generously shared their off-the-record insight with me over the years.
• Don’t dare acknowledge colleagues in this column for fear of leaving some out.
• Claimed to always put my family before my job, but didn’t.
That said, there’s plenty I feel good about:
• My kids turned out more than OK, my husband is patient and supportive, and my sense of humor remains intact.
• I beat the big boys at the metro papers in our company in an editorial writing contest, one of the most satisfying of my national and state awards.
• I’ve never been doing it for the awards (though I wouldn’t turn down a Pulitzer).
• I’ve launched the careers of dozens (I think it’s in the hundreds, actually) of journalists and had the privilege or working with countless gifted, amazing, dedicated people.
Most important, I feel good to be leaving this newsroom in the hands of talented, hard-working men and women who believe in the importance of what they’re doing and, I hope, will continue to have fun doing it.