Wednesday, May 3, 2017, was a rough day. I was laid off that day after 33 years at the Ventura County Star, along with four others.
Obviously, it’s a difficult thing. It’s difficult for those leaving and for those staying. But there is absolutely no doubt that God is in control of all this, nor is there any doubt that He holds my family and me in the palm of His hand.
Do you know how blessed I’ve been to be in this job for 33 years? Well, it really hasn’t been the same job. I’ve done a little bit of everything in sports, from reporter to columnist to sports editor to copy editor to page designer.
A few years ago, God was gracious enough to save me from a round of layoffs and instead of being primarily a designer, I went back to being a full-time reporter and columnist, mostly covering high school sports. I just got a tweet from someone who said they’re 47 years old and that they’ve been reading me since high school. I’m not sure how I feel about that.
I started at the old News Chronicle building at 2595 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., which only had air conditioning in the computer room. The newsroom was upstairs and when it got real hot, we’d open the windows. Unfortunately, an auto alarm store was next door and we’d hear the alarms going off all day long. Then, they rebuilt on the same site and it was the first time I’d ever worked in a building that was actually built to house a newspaper. Then the county papers were consolidated and we got moved to Ventura. The T.O. building is now a 24 Hour Fitness.
The Ventura building on Ralston Street was way too small for all of us. Instead of desks, we had doors placed flat on top of file cabinets. That was where we stopped having a composing room and we designed our pages on computers. Almost a decade ago, we moved to Camarillo behind the outlet mall and it was wonderful. There was finally room for everyone. But really, almost from the moment we moved there, we started losing people through layoffs and the building seemed to get bigger and bigger.
You know, I’ve said “we” during all this, but it’s been a different “we” every time. It seems like hundreds of people have come and gone during my time at The Star. Sometimes you wouldn’t even get to know them before they left again. And now it’s my time to leave. It’s bittersweet.
I enjoy writing and it’s really only been in the last few years that I’ve felt I was really any good at it. I’ve taken a lot of convincing. I still do. As a columnist, I felt best when someone who didn’t follow sports told me they liked something I’d written.
It’s so difficult to be a journalist anymore. I remember when it was pretty cool to be one. Now, the majority of Americans dislike us and worse, distrust us. Any idiot online now can be a “journalist.” I joked once in a column decades ago that anybody could be a sports writer. The managing editor circled that sentence in red and put three question marks next to it. Thanks to the Internet, it’s true now; I was just ahead of my time.
I didn’t get to write a “farewell column” in the paper, so I guess this will have to do. Thanks for making it this far. I hope it’s been as cathartic for you as it’s been for me!
Anyway, we would definitely appreciate your prayers. I haven’t a clue what’s ahead other than it’s God who will lead us there. Thank you.