Some of you may have seen the Facebook post last week about Skip, the Rocket’s editor, that marked his 40th anniversary at the Rocket.
That’s a long time to be in the newspaper business. That’s a long time to do anything.
I’m 36 years old, and I’ve already worked for four different media companies, not counting the ones where I’ve worked as a freelancer.
What Skip has done is rare. That longevity is rare. That level of patience and perseverance is rare.
It’s a milestone that impressed me, and it’s a milestone I hope I don’t reach.
I mean, real talk, I’m hoping my working life is over well before I rack up 40 years in this business. Don’t get me wrong I love what I do, but I’m not working to make sure I have enough money to pay to an assisted living facility.
I want to reap some benefit from my labors.
Just running the numbers, it’s going to be close. I’ve got about 11 years in journalism right now after subtracting the sabbatical I took right before this job. So, my goal is to retire when I’m 61.
I have no plans to change industries again. Look, I’ve tried. I did the law school thing, the real estate thing, the “marketing” thing, a handful of other things. The only thing that’s ever really stuck and made me happy – well, the least miserable – is journalism.
So, saying I stick with it, that’s going to give me 35 years in the news business when I’m 61.
Of course, that assumes I live that long, and if I don’t this column just got sad. Didn’t it?
There’s another element to racking up 40 years in the news business that’s slightly different from some other jobs.
Sure, the Rocket is a little bit different from newspapers outside the gate, but when you get down to it, there are very few newspapers which are exactly the same. They all share some characteristics, though.
Like, they all exist in the public eye, which means the people associated with those publications do too, and that extra bit of exposure is one thing that makes doing it for so long difficult.
I’m not talking about A-list fame and scrutiny here, but let’s say you’re writing an email to a friend and you use the wrong form of their, they’re or there, or call it a mute point instead of a moot point, or spell judgment with an e.
Well, instead of just sending it to that friend, you accidentally send it to a companywide mailing list with 25,000-plus people on it.
Your friend probably won’t call you on it, but I guarantee that there’s at least one out of the 25,000 readers who will. Trust me. I’ve spoken to them.
When even your smallest mistake gets amplified like that, year after year, it can take a toll.
But, I’m sure if you ask Skip, or anyone else who does this job, they’ll tell you it’s worth it.
So, join me, if you haven’t already, in congratulating Skip Vaughn on sticking it out for 40 years.