"I knew going to the Examiner was going to be a temporary gig," I mumbled to a friend after three shots of tequilla and a dozen burbon concotions last night.
Even in my desprate, frantic search for a job, I knew in May that if I took the job with the Examiner I would have to promise myself that I would only be there for one term of the newly elected mayor.
I did not want to be a lifer in a newspaper that has been mocked by its own readers for as long as I can remember. The Examiner exists not so much becasue it has an editorial voice that speaks for EJC, a region mostly ignored by the major daily in KC. It exists becasue it is the only racket in town that covers High School sports well.
There are people there that, in fact, do good work and know that the paper can do some real good in this community, but the forces at the top seem to keep that from happeneing.
Forces that either don't understand their central mission or don't care.
It was a wicked mind-fuck to lay on someone that had just graduated with all the idealistic flare and vitality of regualr gun-ho journalist. In my brief time, I have seen how working there can sapp you dry of will to want to move on or be more than what your two-sided cubicle will allow you to be.
There are those who still hold on the mystic falacy that there is still a light at the end of the tunnel. But hope fades and dreams disapear without the right kind of coaching and nouishment that dried up at this builing long ago.
I had worked at places where you were pushed to do better constantly. You competed and beat eachother knowing full well that they would turn around and try to beat you once again...Here, it was shooting fish in a barrel. It was easy and it should not have been.
I should not have been the lead reporter on issues when there were people who had been there 5 + years and still didn't seem to get it.
I was at the Examiner so briefly that i did not even get a going away lunch - fuck, the interns got a going away lunch. I have not even been invited to give an exit interview for my reasons for quitting.
Maybe they know what I will say in that exit interview and I know I will be right. They know when I say, our best talent at the top is being stifled by one man, they will have to write it down and make it official.
Wwll, i should not speak poorly for this place too much. It did give me my spring into my next big assignement. Which is where much of this guilt, i think, come from. I feel bad for leaving.
The battle for making the paper better had enough people finally. They could have mounted a good attack on those who were holding us back.
Oh well, my battle is moving across the state line.
I think it is good to think of my job as a constant fight with sources, editors, the publisher, myself. It keeps things interesting. It keeps things fresh.
This is not a game of checkers where you simply move your piece across the board and win or lose, this is a never ending game of 3-D chess. You move your pieces up, down, diagonal to get into a good position only to realize you have been beated 10 moves ago.
I feel like I cam prepared to play chess with a buchn of checkers surrounding me.
In the end, I knew I was temporary. a short-timer, in and out. There was nothing that was going to stop me.
There is a trend at the Examiner that I might not mind following. Most of the people who work there now have left and then returned for some reason.
I could see myself leaving and then coming back. Only I would not come back as another reporter. Ill come back when I buy the paper or get hired as the new executive editor.
Shake things up in the workingclass town and make the Examiner the feared paper it used to be in the 70s when the energy and ink flowed like it was going to drown some one.
It was a newspaper then. that's all we ask for today.