Wave Associate Editor Announces His Departure
Ladies and gentlemen, the time has come for me to announce that I am stepping down from my post at The Wave. The publication of next week's issue will mark the end of my tenure as the associate editor of this newspaper.
For the last four-and-a-half years, I've been careful to keep my own voice out of the many stories I've written, but I would be remiss if I didn't say a few things now. Please pardon the indulgence.
Although Rockaway has always been a part of my life and I've been aware of The Wave since childhood, I found this job in the same way I discovered journalism in college: by complete chance. In my sophomore year in college, Journalism 1 - Ethics - fit my schedule. I did well in the course and decided to stick with what was working. I found this job a few months after my graduation, when I was low on cash and checking the paper for a classified ad I had placed to sell my car.
I wanted a job in Manhattan. I'm glad I didn't find one before I found The Wave. After you graduate with a degree in journalism, you quickly learn something: you're nobody until you're somebody for someone somewhere. But instead of being a cog in a media conglomerate, I had the opportunity to co-pilot the editorial side of a newspaper and, in the process, get to really know the people, places and issues I was covering. I'm grateful for that, and I have to thank the publisher, Susan Locke and managing editor, Howard Schwach. They interviewed and hired me, and since then, I've been living proof that you don't have to be one of the best journalists in the world to have one of the best jobs in journalism.
Howard Schwach, my boss, has always been very helpful, supportive and patient. He also knows a thing or two about Rockaway, and he gave me the best directive that any reporter could ask for: "Just tell the story." I reported without fear or favor, with all of the paper's resources available to me. The only firm rule, naturally, was that for it to be in The Wave, there had to be a Rockaway or Broad Channel connection.
I also have to thank Sanford Bernstein, the Wave's general manager. His generous, pro-education philosophy made it possible for me to attend the New School and to participate in Rotary International's Group Study Exchange Program, which, much like my experience here, will be with me for the rest of my life.
When I accepted the position, I figured I would stay on for a year, maybe a little more. The fact that I stayed longer is a testament to how interesting this community is, how well I was treated by my employer and how much I enjoyed my co-workers. It has been great to be a part of a successful newspaper, especially at a time when journalism, especially in print, is facing its toughest challenges ever. It was also wonderful to have access to The Wave's archive, which holds a record of the community's happenings, big and small. I enjoyed helping people find the news items they were looking for, and I was able to find my paternal grandfather's obituary and my brother's birth announcement.
Now for the old cliché: There really are too many other people for me to thank by name in this space, and you're one of them. This job did not come without its fair share of frustrations, but one thing I can tell you never got old was hearing people say, "I read your story." I've heard that line that "He who writes but for money is a fool," but I think he who writes for a newspaper but to serve the public's interest must certainly be an even bigger fool! My paycheck said Wave Publishing Company, but I've considered myself an employee of our readers.
That brings me to another important "thank you." To everyone who shared their thoughts and opened up their lives to me - sometimes during the most difficult time of their lives - please know that it is much appreciated. And to the many tipsters and sources, attributed and otherwise, I say a big thanks. These are the people who helped me develop the stories that were presented to you, and there are many of them. It was a very satisfying experience to develop my list of contacts and to see how much respect there was for the public's right to know.
After reading all of this positive sentiment, you might be wondering why it is that I've decided to take a new step in my career. First is my desire to continue to learn and meet new challenges. I'm satisfied with what I've accomplished personally and professionally during my time here. And I have a few reasons to be proud: I'm proud that I've done the work that I studied in school, and I'm happy that I was able to do it in print. The legendary Pete Hamill once spoke to my journalism class at Hofstra and told us, "There isn't a broadcaster in the world who could put a pimple on the ass of a good print reporter." It's true, and I've carried that with me and relished repeating it to our interns here, many of whom I'm proud to say have gone on to work for papers you either read, or would recognize.
Another thing I'm proud of is that I worked for a place that maintains an open-door policy. The Wave isn't generated by strangers in some distant place, and, as a result, you can share your comments, tell your story or lodge a complaint with a staff member with relative ease.
One of the things I will take with me when I clear out my desk is a recording of some of the voicemails I've saved over the years. Some of them are complaints, and some are threatening, but a few are complimentary. While earning compliments can never be the focus, they still provide an unexpected morale boost when they come.
Finally, I'm proud that for the last 230 or so weeks, I've played a consistent role in creating a weekly paper that covers this community like no other. It wasn't always easy and it wasn't always perfect, but it was always interesting and informative. I hope you agree.
In covering countless meetings and events, the position has taught me a lot about civic involvement, and I'm looking forward to becoming one who does as opposed to being the one who reports on those who do. I want to bring my own issues to a community board meeting and let someone else take notes! I think I'll also enjoy sleeping on Thursday nights, as opposed to either getting up before dawn to be in the office when the papers come back from the press or being unable to sleep because I'm worried I got something wrong - or both.
In the story that welcomed me to the Wave staff, I am quoted as saying, "I hope my name becomes one that our readers will come to know and trust." I think I've accomplished that. Now I'm looking forward to new achievements, working in public education for the Department of Sanitation.
I would like to thank a few good Irishmen for their inspiration: Steven Knowlton, Ph.D. and Bob Greene, two distinguished professors from Hofstra University; my uncle Tim O'Shea, a master at the art of storytelling; and Rich Lamb, the City Hall reporter for WCBS News Radio 880, who invited me to join the New York Press Club and graciously shared advice and social invitations.
My last thank you might also explain why I've decided it's time to move on. It's reserved for someone I've never met, former Wave Associate Gary "G-Man" Toms, for it was he who vacated this position and created the opening for me. Now it's time for someone else to have their own set of experiences here, and I'm already a little jealous of them, because it will be their byline printed over the stories of this community's future. Let me also say that the journalist in me is still alive, and I've got a place in my heart for newspapers, the people who work on them and the people who read them.
When I signed off at my old college radio station, I played one of my favorite Rolling Stones songs, "Mixed Emotions," because I felt that it represented my nostalgic feelings about moving on from college and the fun times at the station and how I felt about ending that part of my life and beginning a new one. While I think that song would apply in this case, this time I'm going with Paul McCartney's wonderfully cheesy song about love and friendship, "Coming Up." The lyrics are, "Coming up, like a flower. Coming up, for you and me. Whoooo!"