An anonymous commenter sent me a message here late Tuesday wishing I was dead.
Not long afterward came a follow-up, likewise anonymous, saying it had been sent while “drunk and furious,” asking me not to publish it.
Honest to God, I understand: I’ve been there. Though I haven’t been drunk in a long time, I’ve spent a good bit of the recent past furious as well.
Tuesday, like too many days in recent history, was a horrible day at McClatchy. Talented, hard-working people who do their jobs as well as anybody in the country have been laid off. Those remaining at work often approach the future with despair, unsure about survival, much less the capacity to fulfill their missions. On the front lines (and, yes, the executive offices) people work heroically to chart a new course safely through peril.
In writing about all this I’ve too often failed to say plainly that I also feel just how awful it is. I suppose I was trying to avoid the old parent’s line, “This hurts me as much as it does you.” I know it doesn’t.
My only intention has been to introduce facts into the discussion and to tell you what this all looks like from my perspective. For a lot of this period I worked at the highest levels of the corporate structure, where responsibility lies. I’m sorry for the times I came off off as an apologist and, worse by far, to have seemed indifferent to the pain.
I don’t apologize for expressing the facts as I know them. It simply isn’t helpful to build mythologies based on anger and blame that don’t reflect reality. That won’t erase the pain or fix the changing business models. For example, those who argue that McClatchy took over a thriving N&O and greedily ran it into the ground are misinformed, and perpetuating that myth hurts the cause of reconstruction.
As I have for more than 40 years, I believe at my core that intellectual honesty, critical thinking and plain speaking are the best way to face and fix problems. I intend to keep adding whatever perspective I have to that process in the hope of helping navigate through a dark, painful time for our beloved profession. I also plan to acknowledge more often what I feel every day: this process has damaged a lot of talented people and valued institutions; like most of you, that makes me profoundly sad.