No more writing for the local paper

I was going to write this earlier this week. Then an assignment wound up taking WAAAAAAYYYY longer than I expected. (It all worked out fine, btw, and I’ve filed the piece.) But wow. My brain felt like a deep-fried Mars Bar. Mmmmmm. I miss those.

However. I’m sure that in the back of my mind I was struggling a little with writing this next part. Bittersweet news is never fun to share.

Back in August, I had 3 articles in the local paper, The Register-Guard. Sadly, they were also my last articles for the paper.

There’s no crazy drama behind it or anything. Earlier this year, the RG’s owner sold the paper to another company. I figured that at some point said new owner would send out a new contract for freelancers like me. A few weeks ago, well, they did.

It was a horrible contract.


I won’t go into the details (at least not publicly). I tried to negotiate better terms, but the local editors weren’t allowed to negotiate the agreement. Since the terms weren’t acceptable to me, then, it was time to write a heartfelt but professional good-bye.

So I did. Since then I’ve gotten some nice notes from folks at the RG. They wish things had worked out differently. I do too. I got my start at The Roanoke Times, my hometown newspaper, and writing for the RG has always reminded me a little of being in the newsroom when I was a college kid. I also loved the stories I got to work on, and the fascinating insights and determination from the people I got to talk with. Since my first RG piece in 2010, the paper has run dozens of pieces by me.

However, none of that makes up for a bad contract.

It wasn’t an easy decision, but I know it was the right one.

I do know, though, that if the RG at some point says it’ll come to the table and have a chat, I’ll join them and talk. Because being a professional writer is about knowing when to walk away, but also about knowing when to come back. You can say no to a bad deal, but still make it clear that you’ll leave the door open for a better one.

I liked writing for the RG, but as these things go, it’s an opportunity for new things.

New articles. New stories. A few other ideas I’ve got in mind.

After all, parting ways with a client isn’t the same as having time on my hands.

Back to work.