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For several years I’ve been with a major metropolitan newspaper, and for
most of those years I’ve been plotting my escape. That I am still here is a
shock not just to me, but pretty much everyone who knows me. The paper is
all wrong for me, but has helped me develop my skills, and will hopefully
launch me into my next journey (and soon). What’s been a challenge is how
the wrongness of the job/location have changed since I’ve been here. At
first it wasn’t so much the paper that was wrong — I was thrilled to have a
job, but I was homesick. It was an adjustment I’d expected, but harder
because I knew no one in the city. And when I’d moved before, in a similar
situation, I’d had a much easier time making friends. I thought about
quitting and moving home often, but I knew I needed to stick it out, and I’d
thrown myself into these types of situations enough to know I could.

As I was starting to become more familiar and as I met some people, my boss,
who had hired me sight unseen, quit for personal reasons. After that
departure, no one was hired, leaving the copy desk rudderless. There was no
one to take charge, defend us, keep us in check. It was miserable at work,
but by now at least I had a distraction from it because I had made a few
friends. So I just kept at it, thinking I could make it to at least the
one-year mark and then look for jobs. It’d been months since we’d had a
copy chief. Work had become infuriating — people called in sick all the
time, no one did anything they didn’t feel like, and it left some stuck
doing more than their share.

Eventually they did hire someone. I hadn’t ever thought having a boss could
be worse than not, but I was oh-so wrong. Among some minor problems, there
was the bigger issue of the new copy chief not being a leader nor a unifying
figure … after being hired, it was amazing how quickly people started
quitting. Everyone, and I mean everyone, who was there before the new hire, who
wasn’t attached to the area, left, except me. At some points, the copy desk
was so understaffed I was the entire rim for a night — A section and
local. It didn’t even feel like I was editing, just shoveling copy, making
sure it had some sort of headline and no spelling errors. I was sure I’d
leave, anyway. And I tried, I looked constantly, but I’d gone and stupidly
anchored myself here by getting involved with someone. So I’m still here,
waiting. The someone turned out being worth it, and will be finishing
school fairly soon, which is why I’ve stuck it out. After graduation, we
can move on.

So that’s what’s led me to deciding between leaving or staying in
journalism. I could wait for my significant other to get a job, and then go
there (we both very much want to leave here). Or I could get a job myself,
knowing my significant other would go where I go. But I’m just afraid to go
to another paper. I know I’m certainly not the first person to dislike a
job, a company, a boss. But I’m worried that it’s going to be like that
everywhere now — watching the slow, painful death of a once-proud product
deteriorate from the inside. But then I read parts of the blog, and I had
some hope, that maybe there were still newsrooms where people were happy,
that they still cared about improving the product every day, that it, that
they, were significant. And I’m not sure I’m ready to leave that behind.
On the other hand, I’m already tired. Tired of going where the job is,
rather than where I want to live. Tired of missing all the holidays with my
family. Tired of only seeing my significant other at weird hours. I’m just
not sure I can be happy like that for very long.

And as my newspaper has announced its first cuts in the past few weeks, that
weariness seems all the more troubling. So far one of the nice things about
this paper has been that we weren’t as in danger as others in the industry.
We hadn’t had layoffs. But that’s changing too, and scaring me away from
journalism again. This has all made me re-evaluate my future as a copy
editor. I love the work, and want to continue to do it. When I think about
people like Dr. Trayes, and my editing mentor in college, I can’t help but
be sad, and disappointed that I probably won’t be carrying on in the
capacity that they taught me. But I know that whatever type of copy editing
I do, their words (and words, and words on words) and lessons will always be
with me.

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