Friday, July 16, 2010

Would time travel change your career?

I've been thinking a lot about the movie Hot Tub Time Machine. No, I haven't gone over the edge - I haven't even seen the flick, although I hear it's pretty funny. What I've been thinking about, specifically, is the aspect of time travel.

I think the whole thing started earlier this week when my former employee, the Gannett Corp., announced in a fairly bloodless memo that it would be creating regional hubs to take on their papers' design work. It's efficient, they say. It's necessary. And it's going to eliminate about 500 more jobs in an industry - an industry I still think of mine - that's reeling from uncertainty and job loss.

Gannett's been slicing and dicing for years, but I guess this move, more than any other, solidified the notion for me that journalism isn't really my industry anymore. I left. I can't go back. Now, would I ever really want to? I mean, c'mon - low pay, bad hours, crazy editors - it's not exactly a glamour industry. Any overworked reporter or editor will tell you that.

Who knows? But I never felt the door slam so hard in my face as it did this past week. There's no going home again, as they say. And that's where my time travel thoughts wandered in - spurred, of course, by the comedy advertised on cable.

If I could go back in time and talk to my college self (I'm sure I could find her in a campus tavern) and tell her that the industry she'd chosen - one that she would eventually allow to practically define her - would hit such hard times by the time she hit (ahem) nearly middle age, would she listen? Would she care? Would it make a difference?

Would I have given up all that I got out of newspapers if I'd known that one day, just when I was comfortable with all that I knew and learned, I'd have to leave and start over again on another career path? Would it be worth it?

Or would I change course, take another route entirely, save myself some time?

It's hard to say, of course. Revisionist history steps in. Today's work is hard, yesterday's work was fabulous. Then I remember the nutty editors, the newsroom job shuffle, the time I was forced to call a woman who's daughter was just mauled by a bear, for God's sake.

But I'm proud of what I did while I was there. And I'm learning, step by step, the rules of the new career I'm in now. Would I have changed the past if I knew the future? Hard to say. Would you?

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