Last night, after working at the paper, I drove home thinking about that chapter of my life coming to an end. I have no regrets. I don't regret my stint as copy editor/page designer at two different papers. And, I don't regret the decision to move on.
I think the most important thing I've gotten from working in news is a broader world view. When my job was producing TV listings, I didn't pay a lot of attention to the news beyond the headlines. I didn't want to get involved in the divisiveness of politics, and I couldn't wrap my head around world issues. I knew a little about local issues through word of mouth and gossip drenched in opinion.
Working at the paper has forced me to read stories about civil wars in Egypt and Syria, dismal working conditions in Bangladesh, failing economies in Europe and human rights issues in India. Every time I read these stories, I think about how lucky I am to live where I do. Some of them, especially stories such as those about collapsing garment factories, make me think about how my choices affect people so far from me.
While I feel lucky to live in this country, I worry our government is taking us in the wrong direction. Working in news has forced me to gain a better understanding of how our Legislature works. I'm not sure I could have had an intelligent conversation with my peers about politics before. I still tend to avoid those discussions, because I still despise the divisiveness of it, but now I know the issues.
I doubt I ever read a story about a sewer system before my job required it. Maybe I never will again. But, if I lived in a municipality with a sewer system, I might. I will definitely continue reading the stories about the issues in my town. I now have a far greater appreciation for local politics, our elected officials and all our public servants. It's hard for me to believe how little I knew about our community before working for the paper.
That brings me to my appreciation for the news media, especially the local paper. The media has a bad reputation in our society. It's thrashed for being one-sided, hiding the real news, sensationalizing, never reporting good news, reporting too much fluff, and on and on. There's probably truth in all those criticisms, but one fact remains: without the media we would be living in darkness. I probably could have written this whole post on why I value our local newspaper. My goal, though, is to just tell you why I value my time working for it. One big reason is the appreciation I've gained for its existence.
Now, I move forward. As I do, I will carry this experience with me. I will make an effort to stay up on world, national and local issues, even though my work doesn't require it. I'll do it, because being a citizen of this world requires it.