After eight fulfilling years, a fond farewell

For nearly eight years, I’ve worked at the Colorado Springs Business Journal — the longest single employment stint in my life.

I’m not sure how to close the door on all that experience, the interesting stories, the controversial stances and the relationships created along the way. So, I’m not going to actually say goodbye.

While I’m moving to a new position at the Air Force Academy, this will be the first time that leaving a job hasn’t meant leaving a city as well. Colorado Springs has been my home longer than anywhere else in my adult life — and I consider it as much my home as the small Mississippi town where I lived for 18 years growing up.

I’m not really leaving. You won’t see my name in the CSBJ, but I will still be around. I’ll be promoting all the very cool research that goes on at the academy — and all the tech transfer that comes along with that. Without the AFA, there’d be no Spectranetics, no FalconWorks, no Neumann Systems Group. In fact, Atargis Energy Corp., an up-and-coming company that focuses on wave energy, probably wouldn’t have had the chance to begin research on new ways to harness all the power that’s available in the ocean. There are good stories to tell at the academy, and I’m pleased that I get to tell them.

And I am confident that the Business Journal will continue to serve as a mirror of the business community’s goals and aspirations. It will continue to be a voice for businesses in the region, and it will continue to ask the tough questions and take a critical look at decisions that affect the community.

For years, the main criticism I’ve heard from leaders at the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance and from city government is that the Business Journal isn’t always positive. It’s not supposed to be. Newspapers have the responsibility to accurately reflect the community they cover: the good, the bad and even the ugly.

Journalism has changed in the years since I’ve been practicing the craft — the Internet and social media make it possible for readers never to read a news article that opposes their viewpoint. There are cable television stations, talk radio and other media that will parrot whatever the “company line” might be.

That’s not the way it should be. Newspapers should engage the reader, encourage them to think, to consider both sides of any given argument.

Journalists aren’t supposed to be cheerleaders or naysayers — instead they’re supposed to provide information that readers need to make informed decisions. We’re here to make sure the truth is being told — and if it isn’t, to find out what the truth is and let people know.

The Business Journal has always taken that stance, has always asked the tougher questions and never just parroted what officials want to publicize. I’ll always be proud of that, and I’ll always be proud to be associated with such a credible publication and such amazing people who operate it.

I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had at the Business Journal — the chance to go to Huntsville, Ala., and compare the defense industry there to the one in Colorado Springs; the opportunity to actually watch open-heart surgery at Penrose Hospital (Thanks, Dr. John Mehall!); the ability to cover all kinds of issues in an in-depth, meaningful way. It was interesting — and occasionally frustrating — to watch the talks about Memorial Hospital’s future unfold.

It was equally interesting  to cover the Affordable Care Act for the past three years, and to explain (repeatedly) about the law’s insurance provisions for individuals and small businesses.

[pullquote]We’re here to make sure the truth is being told, and if it isn’t, find out what the truth is. [/pullquote]

I can’t say enough positive, good things about the leadership at the Business Journal. Executive Editor Ralph Routon is one of the best editors I’ve worked with in 25 years of journalism. I’ve learned about crafting stories and editing with a gentle hand, about allowing reporters enough flexibility to cover issues that interest and excite them. I admire his quiet leadership style and the way he allows people to try new things — and helps them succeed.

It’s been a great eight years, and I’m leaving with very mixed feelings. I’m sad that I won’t be coming to the CSBJ offices any longer, and I’ll miss reporting on local businesses. I’ll miss the newsroom and the daily fix that a news junkie needs. I’ll miss all my co-workers and knowing that every day will be different.

But I’ve been a reporter and editor for most of my career. I’m taking a fork in the road toward a very different set of challenges that will allow me to hone my skills in a new way. It’s going to be a new adventure, a new chapter.

Maybe it is time to close this chapter, after all.   n CSBJ