I’m one of those people. I knew from the very first story that I wrote 25 years ago for the Viking, Loudoun Valley High School’s own monopoly of a newspaper, that journalism was for me. I liked trotting around the halls interviewing the lead cheerleader about tryouts (the most important event at school), chatting up the music teacher about the annual musical (of course we only had one) and taking pictures of the boys’ soccer team (who wouldn’t like that). I quickly figured out the three or four different paths you could take to get into journalism (work for a wire service; get an internship at Time or Newsweek; cover courts and cops for the local edition of a metropolitan paper), and the path that you would travel after that (be a writer, start editing, become a senior feature writer or editor, then retire). It all seems so quaint now.
I went the wire route, starting my career (ironically) at Bloomberg, a young startup and one of the few media joints hiring in the early 1990s. (And a place where the word “ironically” was banned from stories.) The thing about starting with a young company is you get a lot of opportunity. And my opportunity was to build from scratch their coverage of the Internet, starting with Netscape’s IPO. It was phenomenal to meet those people (Jerry Yang, Jeff Bezos, Marc Andreessen) when meeting them meant hanging out on couches at tiny conferences and talking about what all this Web stuff might turn into. It was 1994 and no one had a clue.
When I was hired by Bloomberg, the fellow hiring me asked me where I wanted to be in 5 years. He used to work at Businessweek (I know because it was one of the first things he told me when we sat down ) and so to impress him back, I said “Businessweek.” I soon figured out that that was actually a good idea and 3 years later I landed there, covering the Internet and continuing my love affair with emerging tech.
The environment at BW was incredible. Collegial, analytical, devoted to journalism. And that’s what I will miss. I could bore you all with stories of the past 12 years. But I’d rather discuss things that I am most thankful for.
First, just the opportunity to meet incredibly capable, thoughtful people and exchange ideas. Every time I got on the phone or sat in a conference room with someone from a startup or IBM or Amazon or what have you, I just felt privileged to be able to learn about something new. I was just as lucky to work with the fantastic group of folks here at BW. It’s hard to believe even now the level of conversation and analysis that I was exposed to here. I want to thank everyone who met with me or worked with me over the years for their patience, their insight, and their time.
Second, I’m thankful for the skills I learned. I am so lucky to have been able to learn to blog and podcast and use Twitter and be on Facebook for my job. I was literally paid to learn the skills that journalists need these days to thrive and given the foundation to consider new careers. And all of you helped me along, encouraging me and Steve to try new things, providing us with insight about different technologies and approaches to journalism. You taught us what we needed to know, whether it was evolving our thoughts about what journalism is or learning what new technology we should use.
Third, I’m thankful that I was able to explore an area that I am passionate about: clean tech and environmentalism. Now, with leaving Businessweek, I will have the opportunity to explore carving out a new career in that arena.
Fourth, I’m thankful that I was able to be a journalist. I loved writing, I loved the ethics, I loved grousing about how editors were asking for stupid new facts. I’ve been lucky to work at the kind of organization that really put a Chinese wall between journalists and advertising, that respected the work reporters did, and that hired the kind of people who did everything they could to make a story better.
I know that there is a lot more that I am forgetting right now. But, I let me just repeat, thank you all, within Businessweek and outside of it. And thank you Steve, for being the generous, warm, intelligent, and curious person that you are.