Tag Archives: personal

One last waltz around the newsroom . . .

Twenty-six years ago this month, I left college with a communications degree and vague thoughts of “man, it would be cool to write for a newspaper.”

Within weeks of graduation, I somehow found myself working as a sports reporter at the Hickory (N.C.) Daily Record. As I wrote back in January, it was a job I wasn’t sure I wanted in an industry that intimidated me. (It also only paid $12,000 a year, which is still kind of hard to believe.)

But I worked hard and learned a lot, and my fears faded as my skills sharpened.

After Hickory, I became the sports editor at a small daily, then a copy editor at a midsize daily, and, in 2000, I landed what’s truly been a dream job — multiplatform editor at USA TODAY.

It’s been a thrill immersing myself in the constantly evolving news business at one of the world’s biggest media organizations. I diversified my skills, won awards for headlines and even started writing again.

However, at some point in the recent past, it stopped being fun.

The Web’s non-stop news cycle can get your adrenaline going, but it also can feel like you’re screaming into a tornado, as one colleague so aptly put it. The secular decline of the newspaper industry, which has meant  stagnant wages and waves of punishing layoffs, hasn’t helped.

So it’s with equal measures of reluctance and relief that I’m saying farewell to newspapers. I’m starting a new job as a magazine editor at a business-to-business publishing firm that covers the door, window and glass industries.

It wasn’t an easy decision, but this new position is a great match for my skills — and it also touches me on a personal level. My father is going on 50 years in the architectural glass business. That means the fenestration industry I’ll be covering has fed me, kept a roof over my head, put me through college and given me walking-around money when I needed it.

Beyond that, this niche of publishing feels stable and secure, which is more than anybody can say about the news business these days.

As I count down my final hours at USA TODAY, I’d like to leave you with a few words:

To my current colleagues who’ve survived the tumult and still consider journalism a noble calling, I salute you. To my former colleagues who’ve been dumped overboard by the industry’s cruel economics, I mourn you.

And to the colleagues I’ll never know except in spirit, I urge you to ignore what I wrote above and give journalism a chance, at least for a while.

There’s really no place on Earth like a newsroom.

Thanks all, and God bless.


A blast from the past…


An old friend who used to live in Asheville, N.C., where I used to work, cut this out of the newspaper back in the 1990s. It was a house ad announcing me as the employee of the month for the Citizen-Times. I can’t believe he kept this thing, but it was a really nice surprise when it popped up on Facebook a while back.

A notable career anniversary

Twenty-five years ago this week,  the tiny Hickory (N.C.) Daily Record hired me to be a sportswriter. It was a job I wasn’t sure I wanted in a field that seemed beyond me.

Two and a half tumultuous decades later, I’m working at one of the largest newspapers in the world  — and many days, the field still feels beyond me. 

USA TODAY intimidates on a couple of levels. Beyond the institutional heft of the brand, there’s an outstanding newsroom full of grand credentials and big egos.  I love working there, but it’s the the kind of place that amplifies the voice in my head that’s always whispered “you’re not supposed to be here.”

Yet if I’ve learned anything during the past 25 years, it’s this: You don’t need the right connections, the right academic degrees or the right  journalism awards to succeed in the news business (though they certainly help). You need to work hard and care deeply about what you’re doing. It’s that simple.

So thanks, Hickory Daily Record, for taking a chance on a kid with a mere bachelor’s degree and a few crumpled-up clips from his college newspaper.

Slow news day at Muck Rack …

For reasons I can’t begin to fathom, I’m the featured journalist today on Muck Rack.

I’m surprised and a little humbled, though I need to correct a small part of their blog post about me. I personally was not a finalist for the 1999 Gannett Freedom of Information Award. I was part of a nominated team at the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times. I supplied headlines, copy editing and page designs for the various projects that were recognized.

Anyway, it’s a nice little bit of recognition from the fine folks at Muck Rack, and I’m grateful for the honor.