This is my last column for The Forecaster. I want to thank the many readers, neighbors and friends who have been kind in their compliments and honest in their criticisms over the past few years.
I’ve always viewed writing a newspaper column as the most intimate form of journalism.
News reporters deliver facts, details and context with a deliberate and necessary aversion to their own personal opinions. In fact, most of the best news reporters tend to repeat this mantra daily, “It’s not personal, I’m just covering the news.”
But the essence of an opinion columnist requires that the writer share and show his or her truths for readers to see in the most decidedly of personal terms. Sometimes, in the service of a greater journalistic good, one person’s opinion causes another person’s pain – a necessary element of the role that I won’t miss.
Almost 40 years ago I first wrote a newspaper column for my hometown newspaper, the Needham Times, in Needham, Massachusetts. Decades later I would write a national column for Knight-Ridder Tribune, one of the largest newspaper syndicates in the world at the time. The honor of writing for my community, this community, feels like a personal capstone and a special bookend to my pro-am experience as a writer.
During this troubling period of “fake news” fakeness, it should be said that The Forecaster is a first-class example of journalism. More than just a vehicle for local news and information, I’ve seen up close the tireless dedication from news staff, my colleagues from this section, a thoughtful editor and a committed ownership group.
My reason for stepping away is not without some measure of sadness. But, let me share a final personal truth; as years, miles and memories have passed and piled up like a mountain of January snow in a Hannaford parking lot, I’ve come to accept life’s many transitions and transformations with less resistance, and more of an embrace.
That’s how an email from last week led to my decision to end this column.
The message from the executive editor said changes would be taking place on these Opinion pages because of space constraints. Going forward, my column would only appear monthly, with a strict diet of “no more than 700 words.”
It was later explained that the change in frequency would apply to most of the columnists who write for The Forecaster, with the notable exceptions of Edgar Allen Beem and John Balentine – one very “progressive” in his opinions and world view, and one seemingly a committed disciple of the GOP deity, Ronald Reagan. It’s my guess that this new alignment is an attempt to provide greater voice/balance regarding the liberal/conservative war that is now raging here in Maine, and beyond.
I wish Edgar, John, and everyone at The Forecaster well going forward. Now, more than ever, we need real journalism, real news organizations, and a public attuned to the resonance of truth over fiction.
True to this column’s title and ethos, I came to the decision that writing this column, once a month, with just 700 words is too infrequent and too brief to connect in a meaningful way with the community I love.
To those who might think I’m being unreasonable, I direct you to some of the first words from my first column, 2 1/2 years ago: “My name is Stevoe and I’m an unreasonable man through and through.”
That self-designation was borrowed from George Bernard Shaw and his maxim, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
That is my truth. It’s been an honor. Thank you, all.
Steve Woods is from away, but fully here now, living in Yarmouth, working in Falmouth, traveling the world, and trying his best.