I love journalism. It’s the only real job I’ve ever had since high school, when one of my teachers told me I should be a writer because I was too “nice” to go into business. So I reconsidered what I wanted to study in college and settled on magazine journalism (editorial was also available but no one explained to me that it did not refer to opinion writing).
Since 2003, I’ve covered cops & courts, government, education and entertainment ‑ which is what I have wanted to do full-time since 2008. I have lived and worked in Roseburg, Ore., as well as Grass Valley, Tracy, Pleasanton, Walnut Creek and Contra Costa County, Calif.
Since 2006 I have written, on the side for the Bay Area News Group’s features department, mostly profiles of bands, as well as previews of other events, and some reviews. I did it because it was fun for me and because many of the artists I wrote about would otherwise go ignored in our shrinking coverage.
But getting a full-time features job has proven to be very difficult. After being told the features department would be expanded, there were layoffs instead. And more layoffs, and more. It got to the point, recently, where as much as I love journalism, even my news beat was no longer guaranteed.
More layoffs are on the way, and I didn’t feel like waiting anymore. I’ve survived six rounds of layoffs, and everyone’s luck runs out eventually. So, to use someone else’s words, I will turn to U2 circa 1988. As Bono said back then, it’s time to go back and “dream it all up again.”
Starting next month, I am leaving the Bay Area News Group for a job as an internal and customer content writer at SunRun, a San Francisco company that sells solar energy for homes by leasing out solar panels in 20-year contracts. The company has grown quickly since first entering the marketplace in 2007. It is now the biggest home solar provider in the U.S. The company is financially secure (NOT Solyndra), offered good pay and benefits, and appears to be a great place to work. Their office is at the top of a high-rise in downtown San Francisco, with beautiful views of the city. The employees have great ideas about helping people and the environment. They have a running club. They offer two paid days a year to volunteer at a charity. Instead of knowing a little about many things, I will now work to become an expert on solar energy.
It is too good to be true. But it was a difficult decision to give up my job at BANG. Being a journalist always made me feel like I was making a difference and helping people. Being a music journalist gave me the ability to influence readers’ tastes in what I considered good music. So after some investigation and talks, I would also like to announce that I am now a contributing writer to Bay Area Music Magazine. BAM is a longtime Bay Area mainstay that recently relaunched as an online magazine. I’ll be helping to get it off the ground. I may freelance for other publications as opportunities arise, but for now I’m primarily a BAM writer.
- For those of you who I have worked with to line up interviews with your clients: I’m keeping your contact information, and I hope you keep mine (I will send you an email with my email address and phone number). I know that BAM is not a print publication, but hey, the web is the future. And I am just as devoted to writing about music in the Bay Area as I was before.
- To my current coworkers: I wish you good luck, and that you keep up the good work. I’ll still be getting my news from you. I hope you continue to stay in touch. I’ll let you know how difficult the transition is.
- To newspaper readers: Don’t give up on your newspaper. It’s still the best place to get the full story; the one you won’t get from a 30-second TV clip. I’ll continue to post music news on my Twitter account, share some of the more interesting news in the Bay Area, personal thoughts and musings, as well as stuff that I learn about solar energy.
So there you have it. My last day at BANG will be Nov. 1 or 2. My first day at SunRun will be Nov. 3 or 4. My first story for BAM will probably be a review of the annual Bridge School Benefit concert in a week.
Of course, I’m nervous about this change. But I’ve decided I’m doing the right thing.