Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


April 11, 2013

An editor's goodbye: Imagining a life beyond the newsroom

As a young reporter at the Townsman, I learned from the police scanner on my desk that my dad had suffered what proved to be a fatal heart attack. He was most likely dead by the time I arrived at my childhood home.

I met the woman I would marry at the Townsman, getting to know her by living through the types of stressful, comical and exciting experiences perhaps only a small newsroom can create. You can’t hide much about your true self when your eyes are bleary, your brain is caffeine-riddled and a big story breaks on deadline.

My first-born, a son named after my dad, was born, as everyone predicted, on deadline. On town election night.

Much of my life for the past 20 years has been tied up in this paper. Today that is not true. Today, Thursday, April 11, 2013 is the first day of a new life. I’ve decided to turn in my keyboard.

It took me a long time to come to the decision to leave this job. I grew up in town and care deeply about it. But when you become an editor, you do so with many ideas about stories you want to write. You get to do some, but as the years go by, you cannot get to them all. So much time goes into the daily minutia of putting out a community paper.

A friend recently compared it to The Box everyone has after they move. This is The Box that you never open and unpack. After it sits a few years in your garage, you realize the truth: it’s time to throw it out. In my case, I realized I might never get to those grand stories, and it was time to move on.

I don’t believe community journalism is dying. Papers like the Townsman will remain strong, because they are the only place engaged people can get the hyper-local information they need that will affect their families, friends, neighborhoods and wallets.

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