Joe Posnanski is one of my favorite sportswriters. (He also hosts one of my favorite podcasts, The Poscast.) Today he announced he’s leaving MLB.com and will instead be launching a new project and also joining The Athletic to contribute some football and Cleveland Browns coverage.
Joe is roughly my age. Our kids are roughly the same age. (We’re both nerds who are shocked to have daughters who are cheerleaders.) And we are both people who have been in the media business the past couple of decades, which means we have seen some stuff. This section of his personal announcement really hit home:
Let me add a personal note in here because many people have said the same thing since hearing about the job change: “Wow, you change jobs a lot.” I have. Over the last decade, I really have… It’s not something I intended to do. I thought I’d be the person who worked at a newspaper for 50 years and at the end, if I did the job well enough, they would name a high school award or something after me.
Newspapers struggle to survive. Magazines struggle to survive. Internet versions of each struggle to survive. You know all this. I have many friends, dozens of friends, sensational reporters, brilliant editors, who cannot find any work at all. Others pick up a few odd jobs when they can. I hear all the time about unemployment numbers across the country being at all-time lows and the economy churning, but that does not register with my life. Every day, I see and hear from wonderfully gifted people trying desperately to find a place for their talents in this crazy business. I see even more of them who give up the business and move on to something else.
We are told daily, in countless ways, that what we do has little to no value. It isn’t just Fake News and all that garbage. We are told about the collapse of the advertising model. We are told that people will not pay to read our words. We are told that the value of words drops every single day. We are told there’s no viable market for what we do, for penetrating reporting, for powerful storytelling, for a compelling narration of all that happens around us. I don’t believe any of that. I believe what the best reporters and storytellers do is more valuable now than it has ever been….
None of us chose to be born in this volatile time in our business. You don’t get to choose your time. I wouldn’t change a single thing about the last ten years, wouldn’t pass up any of the wonderful opportunities I’ve had. It is also true that if I had been born 20 years earlier, I might have that high school award named for me.