J-school is a ’90s-fogged memory for me, but I do remember that you’re not supposed to bury the lead. So here it is: this is my last Note as editor in chief of Portland Monthly.
Eight years ago, almost exactly, I joined the staff at a bright and zesty lifestyle magazine I thought I understood from the outside: it was all about restaurants and hiking trails, with a side of politics and business. I knew nothing about what it really was all about, or how to make this thing happen.
So, onward, into a time that proved tumultuous, to say the least. Journalism and media rocked and roiled. We watched as the local print scene absorbed the various currents of technology and business: the daily paper became less so; the weeklies kept doing their spiky thing in smaller packages. Everyone started looking at their phones. Political developments spotlighted our profession’s importance even as its practice became more perilous.
Nevertheless. We kept it going. Today’s Portland Monthly looks very different than the first issue I worked on (October 2010: “Wine Country Weekends”), but it’s obviously of the lineage. Our web and mobile operations became muscular indeed, and this year we rolled out bigger, more ambitious, more magazine-like live events. But if you’re reading this in print, you’re holding our beating heart: a magazine counterculturally committed to fact-checked reporting and high-craft design. Helping to create it—as staff editor, co-executive editor, and, for just a bit more than two years, solo EIC—has been the honor of my professional life.
I don’t know if you can stop being a journalist. I hope my byline keeps inflicting itself upon a long-suffering public, here, there, and elsewhere. But as I move on to pursue other adventures in the creative world, I have had to come to terms with the idea that I might not be part of a newsroom again. The newsroom is a special (and weird) working environment: sometimes raucous, brusque, profane, or hilarious; always time-pressed; usually sort of a mess. Sometimes, it can see ambition, dedication, and comradeship balance into a potent force.
In a time of trouble for our industry—and with the support and enterprise of our company and our colleagues on the business and operational sides—Portland Monthly’s editorial team has forged a true, old-school newsroom culture. To call everyone out by name would kill my word count (and emotional state). I’ve learned so much from everyone, past and present, who has collaborated on this ongoing project. So I would just like to say thanks. And that it’s probably time to hit some deadlines.
Editor in Chief