My first mentor in journalism, Ed Cullen of the Baton Rouge Advocate, is retiring. He’s been writing the Attic Salt column for the paper since 1974. I grew up reading him, then worked for him, and became his friend (and he, the poor bastard, the ad hoc therapist for an anxiety-ridden kid in his 20s). This, from his farewell column, is really about the best most of us who work in journalism can hope for:
I’ve been lucky to work at something that gave me pleasure and a sense of accomplishing something, though I can’t tell you anything big that I’ve accomplished as a newspaper reporter.
If we’re lucky, we’ll accomplish something big. But if we take pleasure in our work as writers and reporters, and feel that there is meaning in what we do, that is fortunate indeed.
Ed was, and is, one of those newspapermen who really love words. They are far less common than you think, and it was such an exhilarating thing for me, as a young J-school graduate just starting out, to fall into working for a man like that. I feel sad that he’s retiring, but also happy for him, that he’s getting out just before the curtain falls.