This week brought a message from the librarian at the Advocate, the Stamford, CT, newspaper where I worked for a decade.
Like the paper had already done with its staff, it was culling the archives. She had a small folder of my clips from 2000; did I want them?
Naturally I said yes. Curiosity and all that. Plus my grandchildren might be fascinated to see evidence of how we once communicated by printing things on dead trees.
The folder turned out to contain just a few Arts and Weekend briefs — no Pulitzer material, but rather some of the nuts and bolts I churned out week after week.
I’ve been away from the newsroom for almost six years, but still miss that job.
So today I flashback almost seven years, to February 2008, when there was no denying things would ever be the same.
Already, the papers had been purchased and a bunch of senior folks had been given buyouts. I was now in charge of the features department, which had been reduced to this as we prepared to move from our iconic spot across from city hall to a warehouse at the other end of town.
The rest of the newsroom was just as inviting at the time.
Several of us watched as the presses were dismantled. I can’t remember now what newspaper claimed them.
A ton of wonderful things have happened for me, professionally and personally, in the years since I was laid off and my job was given to an editor in Bridgeport.
Yet I sometimes wish for the old days — the chance to learn something new; meet amazing people; feel the rush of deadline and the satisfaction of crafting the perfect lede; create a beautiful magazine layout; hear a reader’s feedback and know I was making a difference, or forging a connection, even at a very basic level.
These days the paper is put out by a small fraction of the staff it once had. All of the people pictured above are long gone from the newsroom. The current staff is doing its level best with few resources and even smaller thanks.
All this time later, people still approach me to rail about the paper — how small it is, how some story dear to them isn’t being covered, or about some mistake they thought a reporter made — as though I might be able to fix it somehow.
I only wish I could.