It’s time for me to go back to Ohio.
I’m leaving The Commercial Review for a job at The Courier in Findlay. Among my reasons for doing so are being two hours closer to most of the people I know. And I can’t deny that it will be nice to be in a bigger city.
(Portland does, however, have the best Mexican restaurant I’ve been to. I’ve tried one of Findlay’s and it didn’t compare to El Camino Real. Fortunately, I have about four more to try.)
But I’ve learned a lot in this small city and this rural county.
The unpaved roads here aren’t gravel roads; they’re stone roads.
Wal-Mart’s address, memorized because of the frequency with which drivers have accidents in its parking lot, is 950 W. Votaw St., Portland.
Flooding can be a lot more complicated than a river overflowing its banks.
There are the local quirks, the sorts of things I’d have to learn wherever I went.
Then there’s the journalism-specific learning that I would hope any paper would provide to a recent college graduate, but I’ll never know if I would have developed in some of the same ways elsewhere.
“Do your homework,” publisher Jack Ronald and editor Ray Cooney like to say.
To me, the effects of doing my homework have been one of the most noticeable changes in my work.
It’s reading stories about meetings I didn’t go to, that happened before I was here.
It’s reminding readers how a decision a council or board made two weeks or five months ago is relevant to what it did at the meeting I’m writing about now.
It’s getting familiar enough with a place and its people to ask questions about things that are hinted at or glossed over, not directly said.
Then there was learning to do tasks that I simply never had to at a student newspaper.
We were lucky enough to have dedicated photographers and page designers, because they had relevant majors and wanted to focus on those areas, or because they were fed to us via internships required by their departments.
Here, the same small staff is doing everything, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s nice to work on all those skills, and to be so involved with all the aspects of putting together the newspaper every day.
And I’ve learned that writing a column can actually be quite enjoyable. I realized I like sharing my views on whatever I feel strongly about each week. The responses I get — agreeable and opposing — have been fun, too.
So for all of those lessons, I’m grateful to this community and my colleagues at The Commercial Review.
Maybe I’ll come back for some El Camino, or maybe I’ll submit the occasional letter to the editor so no one misses my crazy liberal thoughts.