Some Writers Deserve to Starve

Some information about myself not in the bio above in the menu:

  • I’m 36, turning 37 in July.
  • I’m celebrating three years of marriage in June. We’ll also be celebrating eight years together in June.
  • I have a child. It’s also called a cat. No children for me yet, though there are six kids within my group of friends, with two more on the way. I’m comfortable being an honorary uncle.
  • I will have lived in Charleston, West Virginia, for a decade in January 2020. I have lived in the same neighborhood that entire time and Jessica and I have lived in the same apartment building for seven years.
  • We both love local art, attend many of the local art events, and buy plenty of local art to the point that we’re running out of wall space.
  • I stopped driving between 2008 and 2018, but I’ve been driving again since March of last year. I’m looking to buy a second car after May.
  • I’m a type 2 diabetic, take pre-hypertension meds, inject myself with testosterone, and have more gray hair than my own father who is north of 60.
  • My music tastes are still stuck in the mid to late 1990s. Specifically pop punk and third wave ska.
  • I’m a sci-fi nerd, a Star Trek purist, a documentary binge-watcher, and I read very little in the form of fiction.
  • I’m libertarian in my personal politics, but have been known to gravitate towards never-Trump conservatism.

Some recent misconceptions I need to clear up:

  • No, I did not move from Charleston. Because my business cards and profiles say I work for the Parkersburg News, people think I moved away or commute the 1 hour 15 minutes between Parkersburg and Charleston. I live and write exclusively from Charleston, either from my office in the Capitol Press Room, my apartment, or any number of coffee shops in town.
  • Parkersburg is the immediate newspaper I answer to, but I write for five newspapers. I am, in essence, a wire reporter. I focus on state government and try to write articles with broad appeal that affect readers in the regions my newspapers are located. My readers are in Mid-Ohio Valley (Parkersburg) and the Northern Panhandle (Wheeling, Weirton), the Potomac Highlands (Elkins), and the Eastern Panhandle (Martinsburg). You can draw an arch from Parkersburg in the west to Martinsburg in the east and see my readers are primarily in the northern part of the state. But that’s a lot to put on a business card.

The number one question I get is why did I return to journalism? It’s not secret that the newspaper industry is having major issues nationwide. Even before newspapers started folding it wasn’t an easy trade to make a living in. When people find out I returned after working in state government communications, most think I went nuts.

  • First of all, I didn’t leave my job as press secretary for statewide elected official because I didn’t enjoy that job. I enjoyed it very much and I take pride that a number of things I created there will be used for decades to come. I remain friends with my previous boss, whom I deeply respect. The money and the benefits were fine, and I liked the people I worked with.

Honestly, I wanted to return to journalism. It’s what I’ve done for the bulk of my working life. I left a TV news producer job due to an unhealthy work environment in 2013 and I had such an airtight non-compete that left me no choice to go into government communications. I did that for five years for two branches of government and enjoyed it, but that entire time I was looking for journalism opportunities.

I also wanted to escape the sometimes turbulent world of politics. I had survived one political party losing control of the statehouse, but that’s a nerve-wracking thing when your own job could be on the line. You’re also not necessarily free to express yourself, constantly mindful that your words or actions could have a butterfly effect on the elected officials you work for. I wanted to be free to speak and write, like I’m doing right now.

Last spring I started having discussions about the job I have now. I was offered the dream job for a political journalist. Getting to write daily for five newspapers, getting to write long-form journalism pieces for the weekend papers, and getting my own weekly column. When the offer was made, I knew I couldn’t say no. The price was right and what they were offering was right. Plus, I was looking to the future when one day I could be an editor for this same chain.

I said yes. Best decision ever since getting married.