You know that day that you never thought would come?
Well it came. And I’m no longer a full-time journalist.
There are a lot of reasons that I’m no longer a full-time journalist. The main reason is that I don’t want to be. These are incredibly difficult times in journalism, and it was sapping my energy away.
I had increasingly become a bitter, angry person. Angry at the established media outlets who were pissing it all away. Angry at all the editors and publishers who couldn’t see that big, radical change was necessary.
I started as a professional journalist in 2006. I’ve never known prosperity in journalism. I’ve known layoffs, furloughs, paper closures, infighting and inaction.
And that made me an angry person. But that’s not who I am. That’s not who I want to be.
There were so many days when it felt like I was running to stand still.
I want to keep moving forward. I want to help make this world a better place. It became clear to be me that journalism was not going to be the best way for me to accomplish that.
Most of the work I’ve done in journalism has been with newspapers. I’ve worked for them and most of the people I chronicled at BeatBlogging.Org worked for newspapers.
Loss and destruction have been almost all that I’ve ever known in journalism. Sure, there has been great work along the way, almost always at the individual level. But many of those innovators that I chronicled at BeatBlogging.Org moved on to other jobs and other fields.
And that was depressing. These were our beacons of light, and they couldn’t make it. The journalism industry has lost a lot of journalists and many of those that it lost were the best, brightest and most innovative.
But the real problem isn’t a journalism problem. Journalism is moving forward. It’s a business model problem, and that’s something I can’t help that much with.
But enough on newspapers. There isn’t much more to say about them. And soon most of what will be said about them will be said in history books.
Journalism will live on. It will one day thrive again. The people that will be producing it and how they will produce will be foreign to us. We’ll know the light at the end of the tunnel when we see it.
For now, journalism is just beginning its trek underground, searching for a ray of light and fresh air. I needed a break from that long, dark trek.
Will I ever return? I don’t know. I’ve stopped worrying about what the future will hold for me.
I will be continuing my work at BeatBlogging.Org because I believe it is important work. If I’m going to be involved with journalism, it will be focused on the future of journalism, not on what journalism was. BeatBlogging.Org doesn’t have anywhere near full-time funding, and I don’t know how much longer we’ll have money for.
But we’ll find a way to tell the stories that need to be told.
I’ve moved on to a different full-time job in a different field. I’m now the community and social media manager for RarePlanet.org, a social network for Rare, a conservation organization. And I’m happy.
I’m not sure if anything made me more aware of my own mortality than working in journalism while newspapers are dying. I’m a third of the way through my life, it’s time for me to start moving forward.
I don’t regret anything. But it is time for something new.