They say nowadays people change careers every seven years. Evidently I’m long overdue.
At the end of Friday, I will join the ranks of those who call themselves recovering journalists. I count my blessings that I have been fortunate enough to carve out such a career in newspapers. It truly has been a great ride.
So many of you have offered me kind and encouraging words in the last two weeks, congratulating me on assuming the communications position for the City of Penticton. To them I offer my thanks; the vote of confidence is greatly appreciated.
I suppose there is always someone who rains on the proverbial parade, so perhaps I should have steeled myself upon hearing a question about whether there was more to my relationship with the city than what appeared on the pages of this newspaper.
This is foreign territory for me; 14 years have gone by without one question about my motivation. Perhaps they don’t understand how often journalists shift over to communications, which most regard as a natural progression.
Rather than let something smolder, perhaps it’s best to douse the innuendo before it picks up steam. I would not have written one single story differently since my arrival in August. Throughout my career, I’ve been pretty stubborn about reporting news that is balanced and fair, and was never willing to budge on those points. That meant immediately absenting myself from covering City Hall, to avoid any real or perceived conflicts.
Being part of the fifth estate is a great responsibility, and I always worked incredibly hard to live up to reader expectations.
Nora Ephron wrote an essay called Journalism: A Love Story, and explained in an interview that there was no better profession for those who are young. You get access to high-profile politicians, business leaders and inspirational figures, and nothing beats the rush when it is all shiny and new.
The years tick on, though. For each uplifting story you write, five appear with heavy loads to bear. Things like cancer, accidents and needless violence claim so many, and I have too often found myself holding the hands of bereaved family members while lending an ear to the pain. Their loss permeates the soul, and to this day, I carry them with me wherever I go.
I hope you all understand my quiet dismay when I heard how a select, misinformed few took the news of my departure. This change is not about some nefarious collusion or hijacking editorial neutrality.
It is about what awaits me at home at the end of the day: three other mouths that need feeding. Two mouths are small — apart from their growing appetites. One of those mouths will likely need braces. And each one deserves as much of my heart that I can afford to give.
Journalism and I have had a wonderful love story; but for now, the narrative must change.
I offer thanks to you all for reading my work and look forward to having our paths crossing again as the next tale unfolds.
Simone Blais is a reporter at the Penticton Western News whose last day is Friday.