The last few months have made one thing resoundingly clear to me: not all stories have a good ending.
On the other hand, they also reminded me of an important philosophy in journalism: not all stories end.
In the case of my time with the Marquette Wire … Yeah, that story’s just about over. It was a good story. The ending was a little rushed. I wish we could have ironed that out, but it’s hard to get it all right in just one draft. I think we did okay, otherwise.
I’ll never be quite sure how I ended up here. Hunter S. Thompson once said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” That’s my best shot at an explanation. I can only be sure of one thing: I couldn’t have done it alone.
Looking back, the Wire was the backdrop for the strangest, most wondrous, best years of my life. When I was down, the people there picked me up. At the risk of cliché, they believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. They pushed me out of my comfort zone from day one on the job and I don’t think I can thank them enough for it.
I had no designs of being an investigative reporter when I came to the Wire, but I ended up as one. I had no designs of becoming an editor, but I ended up as one. I had no designs of spelunking in record boxes for hours on end, but … Well, I think you get the point.
I owe all of it to the people of the Wire; the ones who made the newsroom feel like home, the ones I’m content to call my family. They taught me a masterclass in empathy and kindness without having to say a word. They taught me what journalists were supposed to be. They were more than just writers and editors and directors and producers — they were people who wanted to change the world through the stories they could tell. They impressed that same idea on me. I spent four years in constant awe of them.
They were the ones who showed me what this business really is: a newspaper is like a heart full of ink. It swells when its pages are full of good news. It weeps with its community when they are full of sadness. It documents the peaks and valleys of the human condition, and it never stops beating. You can swap that with the pages of a magazine, the airwaves of a radio station or the moving pictures of a television set, and it all holds true.
That’s my story about the Wire. They took a rudderless ship and pointed it true north. They took an apathetic student and made him a crusader. And now that story is over.
Alternatively, some stories are far from over. My eternal struggle against the blank page wages on yet, and not too far from my old home. There’s many, many more stories to write with authenticity and candor. My heart full of ink hasn’t dried up yet.
One day, my story will end, too. It’s inevitable. But in this business, the ending is usually the least important part. It’s what you do along the way.
The story that never ends is the story of us. Humanity. The tales we pass down from generation to generation, the events and lives we document in each new edition, the etchings we make into the stone of history. That story keeps stretching on and on into forever. As long as I make some humble contribution to that through the stories I tell, I’ll be content. It’s all I can ask for.
It’s time for me to write the next line.
To my family, friends, colleagues and anyone who has ever read even one of my stories: thank you. I couldn’t have done it without you. You were the reason I got out of bed in the morning. You were also the reason I didn’t get into bed at all some nights.
For as long as these letters stand, I hope you find a home in them, as I have.
This story was written by Matthew Martinez. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @martz2517.