I’m not the first, and I won’t be the last.
The end of 2022 will mark a first in my professional career: I will no longer be a full-time journalist.
That’s not an easy sentence to complete and an even more difficult one to process. Journalism has been the only career I’ve ever envisioned.
When fellow elementary school students dreamed of being astronauts or gymnasts or doctors or presidents, I wanted to be a reporter.
In middle school and high school, as sciences and math were increasingly pushed, I pushed back and focused on writing, journalism and communications courses.
This sounds cliche, but I was first drawn to news for its ability to share important information people needed to know.
Newspapers, at the time, were stuffed full of so much valuable information.
I would lose track of time reading the Sunday edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — back when it seemed thicker than an encyclopedia. And I always found myself focused on local and regional stories — stories that had an impact or were of interest to areas I lived in or near.
I read the then-Moon Record from front to back — a newspaper that’s related publications would later have a profound impact on my career and life.
I was also drawn to news for its sense of immediacy and that rush of adrenaline when breaking news happens, watching television reporters and anchors bring information to people in real time.
While news stories were of interest to me, so was understanding the art of making news — whether it be for print, television, radio or, later, digital.
To this day, I consume the information while also analyzing the coverage. Ask anybody who has ever watched a newscast with me, and they’ll tell you how enjoyable (my word, not theirs) it is to hear me discuss the coverage.
As a kid, I can remember many times writing “stories” about and anchoring “newscasts” to my stuffed animals. I would even make “incidents” happen in my Micro Machines setups to have newspeople go cover.
Outside of interviewing toys, my first major interview was then-Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Gary Anderson, who I tracked down in an elementary school office following an assembly. I was in third grade.
In high school, my principal threatened to keep me from walking at graduation following the publication of an editorial I wrote that he disagreed with.
As a journalist in college, I helped tackle a groundbreaking legal case of a college nun who sued a Catholic university over sexual discrimination. I helped to uncover sources that were quoted by The New York Times.
My time at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review allowed me to live out those childhood dreams of sharing stories that mattered to communities and families through the Sewickley Herald and The Signal Item — two newspapers I will forever be grateful to have been part of.
For the last few years with Hearst Television, I have had the responsibility of managing a team tasked with copy editing news and media content across more than two dozen local news digital platforms.
And while it is incredibly difficult to step away from what has long felt like a calling, it was time.
The coronavirus pandemic has allowed me to refocus my life and do something I’ve never done before: Put myself and my life first.
It’s not been easy to say goodbye to working full-time in news. There have been a lot of tears shed.
But I’m reminded of a line in one of my favorite musicals — “Avenue Q” — that is simple and true, and helped me to again understand that nothing is forever: “Everything in life is only for now.”