After 26 years as Express editor, it’s time to say goodbye

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Yes, it’s true.

I’m leaving the Winters Express after nearly 26 years as managing editor. Theoretically, my last day will be Thursday, May 31, but things at the Express are quite fluid these days, so don’t bank on that.

Did I want to resign? No.

Did I have any other option? No.

In 26 years, I’ve not been known to sugarcoat things, so I won’t start now. We’ll file the reasons for my departure under the title of “irreconcilable differences” and leave it there. The new management and I don’t share the same vision or values for the Express, however, the new management is also the new owner, so my perspective on these things is pretty much irrelevant now.

The Express has chugged along down the track for 134 years, rather slowly, a little funky, but always arriving on schedule, warts and all. It was the little newspaper that could, for all these decades. Now, however, the funky, clunky little choo-choo is being transformed into a fast, sleek bullet train, streaking along at top speed and efficiency. Some may welcome that. I’m not amongst them. Therefore, not sharing that vision, it’s best that this little old engineer just gets off at the next station.

My resignation may come as a shock to many, but if I’m honest with myself, I’ve felt it coming for awhile. In December, when I was writing the Citizen of the Year story, about Wade and Kathy Cowan, while we were in the midst of transitioning from the old publisher to the new one, the thought came to me that “this will be the last Citizen of the Year story I ever write.” The same thought came to mind again as I compiled the “Top Ten Stories of the Year” — this is the last time I will ever do this.

Similarly, I enjoyed covering Youth Day and taking parade photos a little more than usual this year, being fully cognizant that it would be the last time I would cover a Youth Day, because I’d already decided to resign the following week.

Did it. Boom. Done.

In retrospect, my years at the Express weren’t always easy. Charley and I existed with our fists up much of the time. I’ll give Charley credit — he dishes it out, but he can take it too. I never had to pull any punches with Charley. If he pissed me off, he’d know about it on the spot. That said, Charley and I reached a balance. He had his tasks, I had mine, and we stayed out of each other’s business, trusting that we’d each get our respective jobs done.  And we did. The little Express train would come chugging down the track right on time, week after week.

We had plenty of successes over the years too. We have stacks of California News Publishers Association awards, from their annual Better Newspapers Contest, and stacks from the National Newspaper Association’s contest of the same name, in everything from environmental reporting to breaking news. In 2001, we even won the California journalism industry’s equivalent of “Best Picture” by being honored with the General Excellence award. A couple years prior, we won second place in that category at the national level. Not too shabby.

As for myself, national and state level combined, I have 16 Better Newspapers Contest awards for my column. Also, not too shabby. I’ve written a lot of stuff over the years, haven’t I? Some of you have liked what I’ve had to say, others not so much, but I’ll say this in my own defense: I never pulled any punches there either. Agree or disagree with me, you always got the truth, as I saw it, at full saturation with no apologies. I give myself props in the “what you see is what you get” department.

Speaking of my column, that also winds up this month (in print, anyway). My column also appears in the Davis Enterprise on Sundays, but that ended along with the announcement of my resignation. I was a bit surprised, and disappointed, to discover that one was contingent upon the other. And thus, “Because I Say So” now becomes “Because I Said So.”

Sure, I will still write, and you can always find me on my website (https://debradeangelo.com) as well as on iPinion Syndicate’s (www.ipinionsyndicate.com) and, of course, on Facebook and Twitter. Need to contact me? Just send a message on any of those spots.

To be clear, I’m not retiring, I’m resigning, so please temper your expressions of congratulations with the recognition that things didn’t end at the Express as I’d imagined. It’s not an achievement, it’s a divorce. And not an amicable one. You don’t really congratulate someone after a divorce, even it was the best decision that person ever made… you just sort of acknowledge it and leave it at that.

I always imagined that I’d pick up where Newt left off, serving as the caretaker of our community history, and heart, and eventually just move my desk right back next to his. Because he was supposed to live forever, right? When Newt passed, for me, the spirit of the Express passed along with him.

So, with Plan A in shambles, it’s on to Plan B. For the immediate future, I’ll be focusing on my massage practice (yes, I’m taking new clients, beginning June 1), I have a half-finished novel to complete, and I’ve also recently been inspired to write a non-fiction book on the magic of horses. Those of you who love my horse columns and always ask for more, well, stay tuned.

And so, a 26-year career comes to a close, with neither a bang nor a whimper. More of a “meh.” As I’ve said more than once over the years, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” I guess it’s time to make new plans.

Thanks for playing along. It’s been a good run, I suppose. Just not as long as I’d imagined.

 

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