By Roland Murphy for Arizona Builder’s Exchange
I was wrapping up my training as a reporter around the time the reporting trade was experiencing its second reported death in 30 years. Unbeknownst to any of us, a third, much more expansive extinction event was right around the corner.
Despite the gloomy prognostications, neither technology nor fashion could quite kill off the fact there will always be a market for serious information and a place for serious people to deliver it.
Back then, as the industry was transitioning from physical paste-up to electronic layout and other technological advances, we still used physical page numbers and end marks to note progress in an article. Not to belabor a point, but the end mark is a set of symbols the writer put in to note the end of the article.
There were two in common use. The more popular was — ### —. The other was — 30 —. They were pretty much interchangeable by the time they were both falling out of use, but traditionally the — 30 — had been used to note a reporter’s last article for a particular publication.
This column is my — 30 —.
My time at AZBEX has been among the most rewarding of my life. In this place and with these people, I have found a real home and done some of my best work. If you know me at all, you know one of the highest bars against which I measure my worth is the quality of the work I perform, and I feel nothing but pride about what this team has accomplished in the time I’ve been here.
When Rebekah gave me the editorship I had already worked here for a while as a reporter. I knew the standards she had established, and I knew how much farther this outlet could reach. I’m happy to say I’ve been able to advance it farther along toward that potential, not through any particular talent on my own part, but because I’ve been blessed to work with a team of talented lunatics on the leadership, organizational, research and, yes, editorial side.
Not long after I took the job as editor, I told Rebekah I wasn’t going to go shopping for a new job, that I was happy here, and that there were a couple of very rigid criteria that would have to be met for me to even consider going somewhere else.
After a couple periods of protracted unemployment during my career — in which I had to work freelance, drive cab, work restaurant kitchens and otherwise hustle 20 hours a day to survive — the 50-60 sometimes 70 hours a week here felt like a vacation. I put out nearly 8,000 résumés during that last job search. Frankly, I was done with looking.
Over the couple of years I’ve been doing this, I’ve had a few job offers fall into my lap unsolicited. After the experience of crying out into the darkness 8,000 times, I have to admit that’s really flattering. I turned them all down, though, because they didn’t meet the moving on criteria I set for myself.
Then, a couple months ago, one came along that did.
A lot of people assume I’ve been a reporter/editor my entire career. That’s not true. I worked newspapers for a few years as the industry constriction kept tightening, then I moved into corporate and organizational communications because I got tired of starving, working 60 hours while getting paid minimum wage for 40 and all that good stuff. Still, the reason I was successful in the corporate world was because I took on every job like a reporter: I wouldn’t lie or misrepresent; I gave my audiences the facts in clear English, and I dug up the stories and information the staff, the market and the customers needed to hear.
When I started running the editorial show over here, all that magnified. I was back in the pure trenches and loving every minute of it — even the minutes I hated, if you can understand that paradox.
Now I’m going back into the corporate world, but I’m still staying in the CRE/AEC sphere. I’ll still be hitting the events, though as an attendee now instead of a staffer. More importantly, I’ll still be reporting, just in much greater depth on a much narrower sector for a much smaller audience.
With all due humility, we have achieved some great things in my time at AZBEX, and I’m leaving this magazine better than it was when I found it. Again, I can only take some of the credit for that; most of it goes to our leadership and our team. It’s a lot easier to build something from a great foundation than it is to fix something built on sand, and that’s something I never had to worry about here.
What I will take the credit or blame for is that the magazine is now more consistent, more expansive and more journalistically bold than it was when I got here, and that’s half the legacy I’m proud to leave behind. The other half is where things are headed. I trained your new editor from her first news piece onward and poured as much of myself into her as I could professionally, stylistically and ethically. I couldn’t give her my status as the office curmudgeon, but you can’t have everything. I’m leaving you in good hands.
I’ll also be back from time to time with the occasional byline or helping to put an issue out, covering for staff vacations, emergencies, etc. After something like 200 issues and 250 articles, this place isn’t somewhere I can just walk away from.
Lastly, let me just say that none of this ride would been possible without you, our readers. Giving you the information you need is the reason we do what we do here, and though the masthead might be changing, that principle never will.
— 30 —