I started and erased this column multiple times. It’s not that I don’t like writing about myself — I’m almost compulsively self-revelatory — but it’s strange to introduce myself as The Athens NEWS editor.
Everything happened so quickly, you see.
I’d been looking for full-time work for over five years and had become resigned to the notion of being unemployable: a middle-aged woman with a degree in journalism and an eclectic resume (to say the least), living in rural Ohio. Hopes of parlaying an adjunct teaching job into a full-time gig died with COVID-19; thoughts of a career change waned as everyone else seemed to have the same idea.
And then in the span of five days, I interviewed for, was offered, and accepted the job here at The NEWS. In less than a week, I went from “I’ll never get a full-time job again” to “OMG, I start a full-time job in 10 days.”
And not just any job — a journalism job. The last time I qualified for press credentials, George H.W. Bush was president, airport security was practically an oxymoron, and Mark Zuckerberg was in grade school. I’d left journalism for work with nonprofits and a longtime freelance writing and editing career, never expecting to work in a newsroom again.
Of course, no one in my generation expected to become obsolete. We figured someone would always need writers and editors. It never occurred to us that the corporate takeovers gobbling up manufacturers would come for print media — let alone that everyone would someday consume the news on tiny computers they carried in their pockets.
Thousands of ex-journalists and former publishing house proofreaders now compete for freelance jobs on the global market with those willing to work for pennies — or provide content for free.
Feeling unemployable didn’t make me sad. It pissed me off. Just as my sons are getting close to leaving home, just when my husband retires, just when I’ve finally got my personal crap together and I feel like I’m at maximum potential — nobody wants me? WTF?
(Self-revelation: I have a potty mouth.)
Returning to journalism hadn’t crossed my mind until I saw the job opening here. Something ... clicked. And here we are.
Much has changed in 30 years. Some of it is good: Technology makes it much easier to find information, take photos, and lay out pages. Some of it is not: Newsroom staffs are a fraction of their former size.
Some of it is the same. On the down side, the hours are long, the pay is weak and you’re not very popular.
On the up side, though, it’s still a thrill to be in the know. To learn new things every day. To read something in one place and make that instant connection to what it means for the people in your community — and to be able to act on that knowledge to help readers better understand their world.
I’ve edited magazines, written a book, proofread manuscripts, even been on NPR. Nothing I’ve done professionally compares with putting a newspaper to bed.
Especially this newspaper. I’ve been in and around Athens since 1980, when my sister started at OU. I married a local boy (Alexander High School Class of ‘84). We bought our first house in Amesville in 1996, got flooded in 1998, and moved to Canaan Township in 2004. We started and raised our family here. My husband retired from Ohio University in 2020. One son is a senior at OU, the other goes to Hocking College.
I’m tied to Athens by family and friendship. I was born and raised in the Upper Ohio Valley, but Athens County is my home. I care about this community — about its present and its future. I have a stake.
The job arrived suddenly, but it was a long time coming. I’m not going anywhere.
And I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Whatever is on your mind, I want to hear it. What do you like in The Athens NEWS? What should we be doing differently? Drop me an email at corinne@athensnews, find me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ANewsEditor) or Twitter (@CorinneColbert).