If you want to make a lot of money, journalism is not for you. But if you seek adventure, this is a great job.
Since January 2011, I have worked for Sauk Valley Media, the corporate umbrella for the Daily Gazette and the Telegraph.
I've enjoyed most parts of my job:
• The fun stories: Not all we do is serious. I liked writing about the hot dog-eating competition in which one participant announced he was "already a legend" in his own mind, the man who proposed publicly to his girlfriend at the Whiteside County Fair, and the Morrison barber who talks sports, not politics.
• The investigations: We can't sit around waiting for news releases. We have to dig deep for stories. My bosses gave me plenty of time for that. I appreciated it. I was able to provide scrutiny for townships, look into local examples of government pension perks, and reveal the politics that took place inside the office of Lee County's former state's attorney. I also was given time to take a deep dive into Rita Crundwell's personal history.
• The push for open government: We've had many battles in this arena. My biggest honor was getting kicked out of a meeting of the Whiteside County Board's majority, with one member saying he'd be willing to "throw [my] ass out." The state's attorney took up the majority's cause, but the attorney general later found the meeting was illegal.
• The tragedies: These stories are about accidents, fires and deaths. They are never easy to write, and we must always show sensitivity for those affected. Still, the stories must be told.
• The mistakes: I hate making them, as do all journalists. Just the other day, I got a cop's and suspect's names mixed up in a sentence near the end of a story.
• The readers: You provide the tips for many of our bigger stories. For instance, someone called in about Anchor Coupling's plans to consolidate its local plants, very possibly outside the area. When tipping us off, you don't have to give your name. With your lead, we may be able to find the information elsewhere – possibly through a public records request.
• The critics: There are plenty of them among our readers, especially on Facebook. Undoubtedly, some will be glad to see me leave. On balance, they help us. I write my stories with the greatest of care, knowing they will read the stories closely and point out any problems with them. They keep us on our toes.
A few months ago, I moved from Sterling to Wauconda, a suburb in Lake County. My commute increased from a few minutes to more than 4 hours every day, with the stubbornly high gas prices taking a toll on my pocketbook.
My last day at Sauk Valley Media will be Monday. The next day, I start a new job as news editor of Lake County Suburban Life and Barrington Suburban Life, which are weekly publications based in Grayslake, about 10 miles from my house. Like Sauk Valley Media, they are owned by Dixon-based Shaw Media.
I leave a great team here in the newsroom, and that saddens me. I'll miss working here.
David Giuliani is a news editor for Sauk Valley Media. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-798-4085, ext. 525. Follow him on Twitter: @DGiuliani_SVM.