Friday, March 22, 2013

Moving On

Not one to procrastinate, I put off writing this blog for almost six weeks. Now, with the Twittersphere and Facebook somewhat quiet today (must have been that late start to the Syracuse University men's basketball game last night), I may as well get this down, while it's still somewhat fresh.

Most of you know that I was fired from my 13-year job as editor-in-chief of the Syracuse New Times on Feb. 12. I will not go into detail about that awful day, but I will say a few things about it.

* Hard work is not always rewarded.
* Personality conflicts sometimes dictate who you continue to work for.
* Your perceived personality has nothing to do with your ability to do your job. This one requires some explanation. I was told by my former boss, in front of a group of colleagues, that I was one of the most unlikeable people he had ever met. At first I was stunned by that--no one has ever told me that before or since--but then I realized mind games were at work. And some people tend to project (remember Psychology 101?). In the words of Forrest Gump, that's all I'm going to say about that.
* Past employment problems--such as being fired--do not doom you to a life of unemployment. I found that out quickly--and that my "likeability" quotient is just fine, thank you--when I landed a new job within a week of being let go.
* Positive reinforcement is a good thing. I have been told how valuable I am, and how happy they are to have me at my new job, more times in the last three weeks than I heard in the last three years.

Which leads me to Friday night, March 8, which provided a fitting coda to my 25-year career at the Syracuse New Times (13 as the editor, and 12 as a freelancer). Along with longtime music journalist Mark Bialczak (whom I have known for 30 years, having interned on the Sports desk of the Syracuse Post Standard when he was assistant sports editor), I received a Founder's Award at the Syracuse Area Music Awards. We both felt sheepish about receiving such an honor, and it certainly had nothing to do with singing (on my part, anyway; can't speak for Mark's talent), but rather our years of service to the local music community. We both accepted graciously.

Me and my Sammy.
Ever nervous about speaking in public, my voice did quaver during my acceptance speech, but the words were heartfelt. My husband tells me the applause was rowdy, but I didn't hear a bit of it. After I left the stage, I high-tailed it to the bar, Sammy in hand, where I ordered a hard-earned glass of wine. There, perfect strangers congratulated me, others said they felt awful that I had lost my job at The New Times, one prominent local musician (whom I will not name) called the former boss a mofo (except she used the actual word), still others thanked me for my support of their child's band or of the music scene in general. I said thank you, naturally, but it was just part of my job--The New Times and local music have always gone hand-in-hand.

So when Sammy's founder Frank Malfitano decided I should be given a Sammy, in my heart I was grateful, but I also knew he was honoring my hard work over the last decade-plus. Sammys goddess Liz Nowak had to agree to the honor, and I am thankful that she did. There are some days I miss my job at the paper--there is a certain rush to seeing a looming deadline, and then taking it on before conquering it, only to see your hard work delivered the next day. I especially miss working with interns, trying to mold them into hard-working, conscientious reporters.

Awards are nice, and I've won my share, but more important to me over my career have been comments like those Jim Reith once said about me, on air, to his former radio audience: "Molly English is one of the most accurate journalists I know." Or Tim Fox's tear-inducing accolades when he introduced me before I took the stage--"She is one of the best writers in town." That's what I want for my now former interns--the respect of their peers and the community.

And so I have moved on. I am learning the ropes as Communications Director at Service Employees International Union Local 200United, a group that, in a strange coincidence, my sister helped organize way back in the 1980s. Many of you don't know this, but I served in a similar capacity at AFSCME for 10 years before I moved on to The New Times. They say some things are meant to be, that what goes around comes around, and as I have grown up, I'm starting to realize that is indeed the case. Karma works both ways, however (and you can read into that anything you like).

You all know where to find me--Facebook, Twitter, and right here on my blog. Race season is gearing up, and if you care to read about my running exploits, well this is the place to revisit.