Over the nearly three months since I was laid off along with at least four others, I have repeatedly had to tell people that, no, I have not retired; I did not want to leave gainful employment. I'm convinced that the newspaper encouraged the misconception that I had retired early. The only mention of my departure was in one sentence at the end of a long and rambling "editor's note" without a headline or any real point. Obviously, few people even saw that article or read to the end of it. No mention at all was made of the departure of Adrienne Gaskins-Smith, the city editor, or others who were let go at the same time. Adrienne had spent more than a decade at the newspaper in increasingly responsible positions. Four days from today would have marked my 29th anniversary at the paper.
Certainly, I had expected my departure from half a lifetime's work in a very public position to be more noted, if not celebrated. To be found expendable after so long a period of loyalty and dedication is demoralizing, but I realize that I am not the only person in this situation as America endures its economic nausea. I've been gratified by the many people, some of them strangers, who have expressed their disappointment and even anger at my departure from the newspaper. But what's done is done. I'm moving on.
Although I have almost no information about or insight into the machinations at the Daily Times — excuse me, the Wilson Times — I would not be surprised if readers saw more upheaval. The paper gets thinner and thinner as advertisers abandon ship. Vacant news positions (including my old one) are not being filled, and writing or editing errors provide daily chuckles or shrieks.
And even more than the uncertainties of being unemployed with few prospects in sight, the demise of good journalism in my adopted hometown, to whose betterment and illumination I had dedicated my career, depresses me.