By the time you read this, I’ll no longer be an employee of Springfield Business Journal.
After nearly five years at this desk, this is my final column. In fact, this is the last thing I’ll ever pen as a full-time journalist. After more than a decade in the profession, I’ve accepted a position as a copywriter in the CoxHealth marketing department. Aug. 24 was my last day.
The CoxHealth position is a new chapter in my story, a new challenge and a new opportunity for growth. It seems I’ve found myself moving into unfamiliar territory a lot lately. As you may already know, my husband and I are in the process of adopting our first child. It will be our biggest adventure yet.
Change isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. A journalist was the only thing I ever wanted to be. But change makes us better, makes us fight and strive, and become more than we ever knew we could be.
I can’t look ahead without first looking back. How do I even begin to say goodbye to this place and to these people who have given me so much?
I say goodbye, by saying thank you.
I say thank you to Editorial Director Eric Olson who took a chance on a young reporter. I know my editing chops were anemic back then, but I was bright-eyed and eager to learn. You promptly threw me in the deep end those first few weeks, but quickly offered up a paddle. Over these past five years, I’d like to think we’ve rowed the SBJ editorial boat together – you catching my annoying grammar habits and me organizing the newsroom within an inch of its life.
Thank you to Web Producer Geoff Pickle, my cubicle buddy, who listens to me chatter all day, every day, without complaint. I’ve watched you grow over these last few years as well – from that recent college graduate whose days consisted of video games and beer to the proud father of two beautiful girls. I know you’ll miss my Monday morning “Game of Thrones” spoiler alerts. Don’t worry, I’ll text you.
Thank you to photographer and graphic designer Wes Hamilton, who can take my random scribbles and musings and turn them into bona fide art. As my real-life neighbor, I know I’ll see your hipster socks around sooner than later.
While the editorial department has been my home, the entire SBJ team has become my family, especially a handful of longtime staffers who’ve watched people come and go over the years.
Thank you to Mar’Ellen Felin who has always been there for me – professionally and personally. You were there to bounce ideas off of when I wanted to start doing more social media content and you were there for me on a work trip to Des Moines, Iowa, as I cried about infertility issues.
Thank you to Diana Weber, my events partner in crime. I know I can always count on you, no matter what. Thank you to Heather Mosley and Karen Ross for always being real with me.
Lastly, thank you to Publisher Jennifer Jackson, and to SBJ founder Dianne Elizabeth Osis, for giving me this wonderful opportunity. It has meant everything. You cried when I gave my two-week notice; I cried having to tell you.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank the Springfield business community for welcoming me with open arms. Thank you for allowing me in your businesses each week and for sharing your stories. Telling your tales has made for some of the best years of my life.
These days, journalism often finds itself in the crosshairs, labeled liberal or fake by those who seek to undermine it. An editor once recited a George Orwell quote to me that I’ve never forgotten: “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed; everything else is public relations.”
Today’s journalist has a harder job than ever, but the mission will always remain the same – to seek out and report the truth. I’ve always prided myself on the fact my job was protected by the First Amendment – the Founding Fathers knew what they were doing – and not many people can say that.
I know I leave the profession behind in good hands. Over the years, I’ve made too many friends to count through the Missouri Press Association and at local news outlets, such as the Springfield News-Leader. “Democracy dies in darkness,” but journalists like these will continue to shine the light.
I grew up inside the walls of a newspaper office and my writer’s heart will forever belong to the printed page.
Goodnight, my friends, and good luck.
Emily Letterman worked as features editor and audience development director for Springfield Business Journal between October 2012 and August 2017.
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