Everything has changed. Everything.
The job, the place, the people, oh gawd even the computer.
I've gone from Mac to PC, editor to publisher, old man of the newsroom to new kid in town.
I'm dreaming in numbers instead of words, worried more about sales than scoops. Well, for the moment.
I can't really envision freedom from fretting about what stories the paper might be missing, or crowing when the news staff nails a big one.
But first let me figure out what language the business side of the business is speaking. Sounds a lot like Greek.
Whew. I've got a lot to learn.
The Colorado family man has become the Nevada bachelor for a few months, while my high school daughter and school nurse wife finish out the school year. No, not the cool dude wearing the gold chain on a hairy chest and working out the latest pickup lines at the casino. Twenty-three years of marriage, and counting, you kind of get out of the habit. I don't have quite the rug to pull it off anyway.
But what's life without a few new turns? My journalism career had reached drinking age. The kids have nearly grown. My 19-year-old son is well into his second year of college, at Fort Lewis in Durango, Colo. My 16-year-old daughter, a junior, counts the days as she considers her college possibilities and pushes Mom's buttons, every single one, while we parents contemplate that empty nest. (Not entirely with dread, either.)
Meantime, my wife has been pining for the Sierra and a bit more proximity to the ocean, family and longtime friends than the Rockies provide. Eight years in one place is a long time for us, an eternity. Even when that place is Vail, as close to paradise as we'd found.
Beware of your own philosophy. That's the lesson here. Mine shouts that life is all about learning. Stop learning and you're done, basically.
When the J curve slips from pegged, I get restless.
In short, it was just time for a new professional challenge, although we weren't willing to just go anywhere; you bet we've grown spoiled.
The Record-Courier and Carson Valley seemed like a good choice. This valley is every bit as pretty as the Vail Valley. The people I've met are every bit as friendly and thoughtful. The mission for The Record-Courier is every bit as worthy as the Vail Daily I came from.
Besides, the nearest ski resort here is about the same distance from the house in Colorado. And it's a Vail Resorts hill, no less. Can't get away from those folks, I guess.
Not everything has changed, now that I think about it.
There's still a lot of the little kid in me who fought my sister for the funnies while our parents spent Sunday mornings catching up with the world and the shopping opportunities, coffee steaming. Over time, I graduated to the sports section and then news, sometimes to the dismay of girlfriends and a wife who sometimes lays the law down at restaurant stops while we're traveling.
I've worked in half a dozen small towns across the country, along with two papers serving bigger markets, between California and Upstate New York. In the small communities you know you are going to run into the people you cover, so you'd better be able to look them in the eye. Ultimately that helps you work that much harder to get it right. Trust me, the smaller paper provides the higher bar. That's also probably the biggest reason that the big papers have suffered circulation losses while the small community papers hang steady.
Beyond that, the local paper is the cornerstone of America's brand of democracy, in addition to championing the local business community it is very much a part of.
I feel every bit as much responsibility to this community I do not know yet as I did to the one where my kids largely grew up and I came to love even as I covered it straight up, no flinching.
My role has changed, and fairly dramatically. But I view the newspaper's place in the community the same. No mere business, this is a sacred trust. Might sound hokey, but I believe it heart and soul.
Even as I dream in numbers.
n Don Rogers, publisher of The Record-Courier, can be reached at 782-5121, ext. 208, or firstname.lastname@example.org.