SO HERE’S THE thing…
When you’re well past your seventieth birthday and you’ve got one novel in dire need of revision and another half-novel in dire need of completion, you start wondering about how you want to spend your time. On top of that, you start thinking about those two and three week getaways to Florida or Alaska or overseas that you can’t take because of obligations back home.
Obligations, like writing a thrice weekly blog in Marquette.
So yep, after considerable deliberation, yours truly is calling it quits at Word on the Street.
Okay, let’s address the Elephant in the Room–the unfortunate blog last week on the unfortunate nursing professor who was admitted to the hospital with COVID. One thing to understand: When we wrote and published it, we were led to believe the patient was fully on board with it being posted because, we were told, she and her family felt the community needed to be alerted about possible COVID exposure to others. Had we known she wasn’t on board with it, we never would have posted the story. Never. And we were told, she couldn’t be contacted because she was in the hospital.
So. A huge mistake on our part. We’ve apologized to her at length via a Facebook message. And our only hope and concern now is that she get well.
We’ve made a few other missteps over the last six years with WOTS, but none as egregious as last week’s.
But back to our imminent parting. It’s been in the works for several months because of increasing, mostly self-imposed, pressure. Too many phone calls and interviews, far too much worrying about how to come up with news stories that might interest discriminating readers. The plan had been that I’d likely wrap it up before the end of the year, so yes, last week’s unfortunate blog did play a part in the decision. It sped it up by a couple of months.
Growing weariness with the demands of the blog became outright fatigue. Why do something that you no longer enjoy?
And when I finally made the decision a couple of days ago, I poured myself a glass of wine, sat back and exhaled. Totally relaxed, finally liberated from all concern about constantly conjuring up news stories.
Being a one person news operation–reporter, writer, researcher, editor, and proofreader–ain’t easy.
Much of it I will absolutely miss–stories about the arts, about entrepreneurs, about individuals and families struggling, about individuals and groups doing good things, about Marquette’s ever evolving landscape. If you fall in love with a town, you want to write about it.
Some of it I’ll miss less–the aforementioned unrelenting pressure, and also those brave Facebook heroes and crusading email-writers, full of righteous outrage and half-informed thoughts, who hurl their epithets, insults, and threats at anyone and anything they disagree with.
But that’s America 2020. And that’s occasionally Marquette.
We’ve made a few enemies along the way–we’ve been accused of opposing Black Lives Matter and the MeToo movement, we’ve been threatened by the cancel culture, and we’ve also been charged with being a tool of the business community. We’ve also been labeled a Marquette hater, and a Marquette apologist.
A gossip columnist!!!
And an unrepentant, aging left wing hippie (which is probably closest to the truth).
But overall, 99% of the community has been positive toward WOTS in spite of some occasional disagreements. That’s been rewarding.
A couple more things. Sponsors have kept WOTS alive. They saw value in what we did. I’m eternally grateful to them.
And our support staff, however tiny, has been stellar. Something little known–it was former city commissioner Andrew Lorinser who got us up and running as a blog in the early days. Elizabeth Peterson (TV journalist) and Jana Mathieu (attorney) have helped immensely with sales in the past, mostly out of friendship. Doug Garrison, the ultimate professional, came in a year ago and immediately straightened out our sales department and has regularly offered valuable editorial ideas.
Justin Carlson, an entrepreneur wearing many hats, has been administrator and trouble shooter for the blog for the last four or five years. Invaluable. His technical expertise bailed us out of many a crisis over the years.
And finally (here we go burying the lede again), WOTS is not going away. A new person has enthusiastically agreed to seize the reins and embrace the adventure and pressure that lie ahead. Name to be announced very soon.
Here’s hoping you’ll support her/him. We need local news more than ever–even if it’s produced by a single, fallible person.