Exit the Curmudgeon
April 22, 2001
This time I had gotten past the produce and was checking the post Easter lamb prices at my favorite market. There I was contemplating the legs and chops when she found me.
Apparently the grapevine works well. And as usual she taken one fact and jumped to the incorrect conclusion. I am, as they say, "taking a hiatus" from newspapering. In the academy we would use the word "sabbatical" to describe this change in my work routines. My choice, and not an easy one.
But almost without thinking I responded, "In fact I'm working on my last column. It will be a thank you to Paul, Buddy, Suzanne and the rest of the newsroom for including me in their team. Leaving is my call. I've learned a lot and hope I've contributed a bit."
She astounded me with a good question. It took me even longer than usual to formulate a response. I opted to charge and said, "Simple, I'm gone too much to be engaged with daily news flow in Meridian. And our consulting work deserves more of my time."
For once, she actually believed me. And walked away shaking her head.
Yes, gentle reader, I have concluded it is time for me to juggle one less responsibility. For several months I've struggled with my need to serve well in newspapering and in community college consultancies.
So why give up newspapering rather than consulting? Easy. Our consulting work is episodic. Daily newspaper production is exactly that, daily. I like the more flexible pace of our consulting business.
To be helpful to my editors and to both of my readers I need to be fully engaged in the ebb and flow of events in our community. To be helpful to our clients, community college boards, we must be available on their schedules and knowledgeable of events in the communities they serve.
Thus, I've felt responsible to two masters. And do feel just a bit guilty about serving neither as effectively as I would like.
My friend could have also added, "Scaggs, you may or may not be good at that community college stuff, but clearly you are marginally productive as a journalist."
The response would be, "I think the work of our consulting firm, Gold Hill Associates, is the best in the nation. And I know I make some helpful contributions to that achievement. That's where I choose to spend my work time." At least for now.
But I will miss the regular interaction with my Meridian Star friends. I'll also miss the regular conversation with both of my readers. The Meridian Star plays a major role in building our civic culture. To fulfill that responsibility the newspaper must have continuing dialogue with critics, partisans and thoughtful readers.
During my brief tenure behind the grape iMac, I've learned that Paul Barrett, Buddy Bynum and Suzanne Monk are open to hearing from readers. Especially from thoughtful readers. They seek to accurately tell the story of Meridian in the pages of The Meridian Star. And what is our story?
With the help of our readership, I believe The Meridian Star is coming closer to the "master narrative" for East Mississippi. Count me as part of The Meridian Star's team. Paul, Buddy Put me on the non-injured reserve!