One of the cardinal rules of journalism is that journalists and reporters should not make the news; they simply should report the news.
Last month, we broke that rule with the announcement from The Virginia Bar Association that I will be the group’s new Executive Director/CEO. I start there Sept. 20.
Virginia Lawyers Weekly has been my work home for 33 years – and it’s been a pleasure and, indeed, a singular honor to bring you the commonwealth’s legal news and developments each week.
In keeping with tradition, I have a “VLW Quick 10” for the occasion:
10 Days in the Life
There are many highlights I could mention, but these 10 significant dates stand out.
- May, 18, 1988. My first day on the job, as news editor. It also was the first time I ever had used a PC. I got a fast tutorial: You put in your 5 ¼ DOS floppy disk to boot it up, then put in your Word Perfect disk. You saved to the story disk in the second drive. My first story was on the new set of sentencing guidelines.
- March 22, 1989. With a battlefield promotion, I became publisher and editor-in-chief. Actually, I was “acting publisher” for a month. I guess I passed the auditio
- Sept. 1, 1996. Valawyersweekly.com is born. Yes, we were on the Internet early. And, yes, it was capitalized then
- May 2, 2000. The VLW Daily Alert, a simple and highly popular e-newsletter, is born. We essentially became Virginia Lawyers Daily by providing a round-up of our items and an aggregated list of news from across Virginia.
- Sept. 1, 2004. The first time we got sold. It has happened a few more times since. We have had six owners over a 17-year span: a family-owned newspaper company, a B-to-B media company, a hedge fund, a big newspaper company that in turn merged with another media giant, then the private equity fund that acquired us last November. If we did our jobs right, you never noticed any difference in our products and services.
- Aug. 28, 2012. Back in the 1980s, the Michigan tourism office had a slogan: “Say Yes! to Michigan!” OK, I did – I clerked for a large firm in Lansing between my second and third years of law school. And for slightly more than two years, I had a grand time serving as the interim publisher for Michigan Lawyers Weekly and rebuilding that operation. I took 34 trips to Detroit, including one during the 2014 polar vertex; it was minus 8 degrees one morning, the coldest I’ve ever been.
- Sept. 20, 2015. The day I was sworn in as national president of the Society of Professional Journalists. You could easily add Dec. 15, 2015, to this list – that’s the day I led a delegation of journalists to the White House to meet with President Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, to discuss government transparency.
- July 31, 2016. Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina. I don’t think it’s inside baseball to note that in recent years a lot of newspaper management jobs have been consolidated across different locations. I spent six months as interim publisher for our Carolinas operation before I was named group editor for VA, NC and SC Lawyers Weekly. I went back to leading just Virginia in 2018.
- May 15, 2020. The third time I said yes to Michigan. During the pandemic, I added editor of MiLW to my resume. No trips to Detroit this time, though.
- Sept. 17, 2021. My last day on the job.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you and to help you practice law better and more efficiently. I am very proud of the work we have done, and I thank all the people who have worked at VLW.
A special note of appreciation goes to several long-timers with whom I’ve shared more than 10 years: Renee Baldwin, Denise Woods, Peter Vieth, Deborah Elkins, Sherma Mather, Sarah Stanley and Elizabeth Cusumano.
In the questionnaire for one of our events, the Virginia Lawyers Hall of Fame, we ask honorees, after long and successful careers, what their next act will be.
Thanks to the leaders of the VBA, I know mine.
Give the Dropkick Murphys, a Boston-based Celtic band, the last word:
Good luck be with you
You go your way, I’ll go mine
So until the next time
It’s farewell and not goodbye.