Going back through my journals to put together the stories from the past week brought back a lot of memories, not all of them pleasant. I still consider 1999 to be one of the worst years of my life in terms of the personal drama and depression I had to contend with.
Snippets of what I wrote back then show the day-to-day grinding of my soul better than I can explain it to you now:
"This is the third time or so [this problem] has happened in recent months, and I’m personally getting sick of the problem not being solved."
"I’m tired of attitude, technical problems, [bleeping]ing, and slacking. I’m tired of seeing other people skate by. I’m tired of having to teach people stuff they should've learned in college. I’m tired of being pulled in one direction by management, another by anchors, and another by reporters. I’m tired of us lapping up the words of consultants. I’m tired of us letting good people get away from us. And I’d still like to know where the heck my raise is for this promotion I got."
"We had technical problems with the trucks. The editors weren’t working right — the two-way and cell phones weren’t working either. And then [redacted] was flustered. To make matters worse, [the consultant] was at the station today on another of his consultant visits, and he was there to gripe to us about what we did wrong."
"After days like today, I wonder how or why I put up with it all. We had a great day planned — only to see it fall to [bleep] because one package didn't get edited on time — even though it was approved at 2:00."
"I had other annoyances to deal with — [redacted] had to shove editing her package for the six onto [redacted] while she ran to the pound to get her boyfriend's dog (why the [bleep] did we let her, I'm still wondering). We had weak audio on one package. And oh yeah, [redacted] quit on us today."
"[redacted] gripes to me, behind closed doors, that I'm not communicating with him enough, as I'm asking to borrow a camera sitting in his office so [redacted] can cut audio. He's upset that I'm 'communicating' more with Jenny and Robert than I am with him — like they're my bosses and he isn't. Well, sorry, [redacted], but it's hard to communicate with you when you're always on the phone, or out of the office, and I've got packages to approve and scripts to write and people to talk to. Besides, it's a two-way street. Jenny takes the initiative with me."
And this is only from January to March. It doesn't get any better.
For the record, I didn't dump a whole stack of grievances on the news director's desk when I left KRGV. That's not good form for any job. Say your thank-yous and goodbyes and get going.
But I wonder if I also should have looked for a job outside news? Perhaps something in PR, or as a public-relations person for one of the numerous school districts in the Rio Grande Valley, or one of the numerous police departments. I might have stayed in the Valley a little longer -- a little.
When I left the Rio Grande Valley, I had no roots to pull up. I yanked myself out like a weed. It's going to be much harder to do that in Tucson, given everything and everybody in my life. I have had ups and downs here, just like KRGV, but the low points here versus the low points there are a lot different and a lot fewer. That's even though I found 2011 an especially tough year, given multiple local tragedies in the news cycle, starting with the January 8th shootings.
I tell people considering a news job one of the most important things they can do for themselves is find a life outside the business for the sake of their sanity. I don't care whether it's with your church, your gardening club, your volunteer group or cavorting around in a kilt once a week. Find something that gets you out of the fishbowl and into the world you are reporting on but yet separated from. Live, thrive and survive.