Hitting a milestone I never expected


People used to get a job and stay there for life. Great pension, good benefits and the comfortable feeling of a familiar job.

That has changed over the years, of course. An actual pension is hard to find these days, as most companies offer a 401K retirement fund that you fill with your money. Yes, the good companies also offer a match, but that is also not as common as it was even a handful of years ago. Benefits are also not quite as good as they were at many companies, and the pay gulf between the boss and workers has grown to Grand Canyon proportions.

Honestly, most people can’t afford to stay in one job forever, unless you work for a great company or enjoy union benefits – something that is also disappearing.

I have never been a member of a union, and I have never worked for a company that offered a pension – well, the military did offer retirement, but I was not in long enough. The newspaper companies I have worked for have ranged from great to horrible, but they have all offered me a chance to do a job I love, and for that I am thankful for them all.

Believe it or not, this month marks quite an anniversary for me, one that I find improbably and a little sad, honestly. As of right now, working for this newspaper marks my longest tenure at a job in my adult life.

Like I said, a little sad. Not sad because of the job, I love my job. But sad that I had to bounce around so much to reach career goals.

Journalism can be a very unstable job in recent years. Sure, I could have stayed at my hometown newspaper, where I worked from 1992-96. I could have stayed at the paper in California where I worked from 2006-11. Actually, I probably couldn’t have stayed in California. Like a lot of newspapers, that one has been sold multiple times since I left.

So, as I have worked at the Ogle County Life now for more than five years, this is my longest tenure at a single paper. I worked at the paper in California for five years to the day. Here it has been five years and a couple of weeks.

Break out the Champaign!

Honestly, if I had not wanted to move up in my career, I wouldn’t have moved. I could be a reporter or a copy editor in my hometown and still sitting at the same desk, I am sure. I might be comfortable, but I would never have lived in the places I have lived or experienced the things I have experienced.

My goal was to be the editor of a daily newspaper by the time I was 35. As I was in the military and didn’t even start going to college until I was 24, I was behind at the start. But I worked hard and took some chances and by the time I was 35 was editor of a daily newspaper.

Before that happened, I was an intern at a paper, worked in sports and news at another in Arizona, worked in sports, news and as a copy editor at my hometown paper and then served as city editor at a daily newspaper in Nebraska, a great newspaper with a publisher so horrible I have tried to block that time from my memory.

Finally, I went to a paper in Wisconsin as a city editor, and after the paper sold found myself in the big chair. Honestly, I wasn’t that great at the job, but I had fulfilled my goal.

After that it was Minnesota for a few years, then to California, then to Illinois to work at corporate for a large company. That was also pretty soul crushing and kept me away from the things I love about journalism – telling people’s stories and producing a product for them to enjoy.

So, I came to the Life in June of 2015 – my first time working at a weekly newspaper. I fell in love with Ogle County and, well, here I still am.

How long will this last? I have no idea. But I one thing the last nearly 30 years has taught me – never say never.