Each time I take a new job, I think it’s going to be my last move.
I thought that when I came to The Gazette and gazetteonline as editor, and I thought that about the previous job and the one before that. And … well, a lot of jobs in the newspaper business.
My next job won’t be in the newspaper business. The news business, yes, but not the newspaper business.
I won’t predict this is my last move. I hope so, but I’m still a young man (well, middle-aged, but I think I have lots of career left). I’m finally accepting that the world changes too swiftly to project expectations very far: Obstacles arise, opportunities beckon.
I decided this week to accept a new opportunity. I am leaving Gazette Communications next month to become Director of Community Engagement for a new digital startup (new enough that we don’t have a name yet) that will be launching this year, covering local news in the Washington metro area.
Jim Brady, former executive editor of washingtonpost.com, is leading this operation for Allbritton Communications, owner of Politico and several television stations, including WJLA and News Channel 8 in Washington. Jim is a leader and pioneer of digital journalism and I am delighted and honored that he has invited me to join this effort.
My staff, colleagues and I will work to turn some of the ideas I presented here, especially in my Complete Community Connection and mobile-first strategy posts, into real, thriving business practices.
I am grateful to Publisher Dave Storey for giving me the opportunity and honor to be Editor of The Gazette and gazetteonline. I am grateful to the outstanding journalists I worked with here for their friendship and for the amazing journalism that we produced together. Working with them during and after the 2008 floods will always be a highlight of my career. My Gazette colleagues are embarked on a difficult but important innovation path and I am pleased that Chuck Peters is interested in a possible continuing role for me in that work as a consultant.
I started in the newspaper business in the 1960s as a carrier for the Columbus Citizen-Journal, an Ohio paper that folded in the 1980s. I wrote my first professional stories in 1971 for the Evening Sentinel, a Shenandoah, Iowa, newspaper that folded in the 1990s. I was present for the deaths of the Des Moines Tribune in 1982 and the Kansas City Times in 1990. I knew a lifetime’s worth of newspaper carnage before I read my first story on the World Wide Web.
I never blamed the Internet for a speck of the newspaper industry’s problems. From my first glimpses of the digital world, I saw nothing but opportunity. That’s what I see now: Opportunity.