The last day for the 300 Palm Beach Post employees taking the buyout is this coming Tuesday. So that means there have been a few recent goodbyes from columnists in the newspaper and online in recent days.
One of the farewells, however, never made it to readers. Business columnist Linda Rawls was incensed to see that her parting words had been cut by editors who were worried all the goodbyes were going to dominate the weekend newspapers.
"I guess if we columnists were all allowed to say goodbye it would give readers an idea how many decades of institutional knowledge are walking out of the newsroom door -- forever -- on Tuesday," Rawls wrote in an e-mail.
Before we delve deeper into that, though, let's look at some of the writers' final words that did make it through editors.
Not long after I introduced myself to Post readers in 1987, a fellow news ombudsman and I teased each other about being the babies in the international Organization of News Ombudsmen. Thanks to your and this newspaper's backing, I depart as the world's longest-serving news ombudsman.
I hope that the newspaper's conversation with its readers, which predated me, continues. I can report that The Post's management recognizes that there's no substitute for having the newspaper independently air criticism.
-- From "Real Life" columnist Emily J. Minor, a 30-year veteran at the newspaper:
You have inspired me and infuriated me and taught me that the human spirit does not fizzle easily. You have left hilarious phone messages on better ways to write and think and even make a grilled cheese sandwich. You've fired off insulting e-mails: "Your Saturday story was awful. Are you an intern?"
You've sent beautiful flowers arranged in pretty glass vases, and I was always careful to tuck your thoughtful words away, first in an envelope and then in my heart.
But most of all, best of all, you have trusted me with your stories - stories often so fragile and delicate that I wondered how I dare tell them. But we got through it, you and I.
And it is you I will miss, come Tuesday.
-- From Food Editor Jan Norris (from what was quite an opus):
My delightfully cluttered office at The Palm Beach Post is the place where I've spent more time than at my home for the past 21 years. I have a whole "family" here at The Post who would drop in and raid my candy jar and marvel that I can find my desk.
I'm going to miss them all, along with you, my weekly readers.
Thanks for sharing this great, wonderful ride — it's been a blast!
But there is at least one that readers haven't seen, and that's because editors axed it.
Business columnist Linda Rawls opened up the newspaper Saturday morning to find her few farewell graphs at the end of her column had been cut by editors. Rawls, a 30-year veteran, was kind enough to share her thoughts about it with the Pulp:
I put a couple grafs at the end of my column -- I wrote just an item, not an entire goodbye column. It was cut, which I discovered this morning when I opened the paper. No one had bothered to tell me beforehand.
Adding insult to insult, someone inserted a long item at the end of my column, an item I did not write, and put it under my byline, without my knowledge or my consent.
When I asked why my column had been cut, I was told "editors did not want a bunch of farewells running in columns all over the newspaper this weekend."
I guess if we columnists were all allowed to say "goodbye" it would give readers an idea how many decades of institutional knowledge are walking out of the newsroom door -- forever -- on Tuesday.
I just wish I had been allowed to let readers know I was one of them.
And here are the final words deleted by her editors:
After 22 years at the Palm Beach Daily News and eight here at The Palm Beach Post, I've accepted the company's buyout offer.
I am the age my father was when he died, way too young, of cancer. One thing I have learned working in an industry whose product, "news,” is obsolete in seconds, thanks to the Internet's 24/7 news cycle, is that tempus does indeed fugit.
Thirty years went by in an instant.
One thing I'll remember, looking back, is that the end came so fast. One day typesetters at‚ my first newspaper, The Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale, were setting hot type by hand and I was pounding out obituaries on an ancient Royal Standard manual typewriter.
In the blink of a green eyeshade, or so it seems, I'm sitting here today at a computer keyboard writing a column that can be read instantly on the Internet with only a few keystrokes from my editor.
Where am I going with all this? I don't know. But with a little luck I still have time to find out.