Why It Was So Easy for Me to Leave News

by - April 04, 2019

via WeHeartIt
Not a week goes by that I don't run into someone who asks if I miss my old job. The truth is leaving traditional news behind was surprisingly easy for me.

That probably sounds strange coming from someone one made the conscious decision in middle school that she wanted to pursue journalism as a career, studied it for four years in college, and then worked in a newsroom for nearly a decade. Truth be told, I thought I would miss it more.

In the past eight months, several big stories have happened in my local market, including a hurricane, major restructuring of the biggest school district in the area, and most recently an arrest in a 20-year-old double murder. Obviously I was interested in all three of those stories: the hurricane because it impacted my family directly; the school restructuring because it's where Alexis will attend; and the murders because I remember the original story. But not once did the thought 'I can't believe I'm not covering this' enter my mind.

It genuinely surprises me how infrequently I think about my days as a producer, especially when I consider all the stories I helped share with the Wiregrass: the battle over electronic bingo at Center Stage that resulted in multiple trials involving state lawmakers; the boy in the bunker week-long hostage situation that started with the killing of a school bus driver; a huge Chinese symposium that was supposed to bring jobs but didn't amount to much of anything; a local school superintendent getting accused and then fired over an affair; a historic ice storm, deadly tornadoes, and catastrophic flooding that forced people from their homes on Christmas day.

When I do look back on my time working as a news producer, the part that stands out to me the most is the amount of stress I constantly felt, even when I was enjoying whatever show or project I was working on, and there was a lot for me to enjoy. As my confidence in producing grew, I started trying new things and soon found myself in charge of planning special projects. It was those special projects that kept me going. But more duties, and more stress, were added to my plate, and although I was working more hours to get everything done, I wasn't getting any extra pay. (Note: That's not a knock on my former employer. It's just the way of the business.)

I loved being part of the news community, but I didn't love news or traditional news at least. In retrospect, I never have really. I've always been more drawn to writing feature stories or covering sports, and I like actually putting a publication together. I fell in love with the creative aspect of print journalism. Working in television was never in my plans; it just sort of happened, and although my career in broadcast lasted nearly nine years, I always felt like something was missing.

These days my stress levels are almost non-existent compared to before. I feel fulfilled and like I finally ended up where I was supposed to. The path to get here was certainly not straight, but I'm grateful for the experiences and people I met along the way, all of which played crucial roles in shaping who I am as a professional and adult.

I wanted to share my perspective in the hopes that it might help someone out there who's struggling in their job or career. Leaving my first professional gig was one of the hardest and scariest decisions I've ever made, and there are days when I still wonder if I made the logical decision. In the end, I chose happiness and freedom and family.

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