I cleaned out my desk last night, which, as I write this, was March 7.
I dumped a massive pile of old Mercury issues in the recycling (saving a few of my favorites). I did the same with dozens of spiral-bound notebooks. I burnished, then donned, the medal I won when dominating Mercury Managing Editor Erik Henriksen on the Challenge of Mondor, the finest attraction at Enchanted Forest.
And I got sad.
In a few hours, I'll cap off a five-year stint at the Mercury that's been more challenging and rewarding than I could have hoped it would be when I signed on as a reporter in March 2013. By the time this column comes out, I'll have begun a gig as a politics reporter at Oregon Public Broadcasting.
It's a great opportunity–even an exciting one! But I still find myself compelled to write this schlocky column. Because I'll miss you people.
A predecessor of mine once called the Mercury "Portland's most human news organ." That was years ago. It's still true.
In my time as news editor, I've tried to make us a paper that talks the shit that needs to be talked, that speaks out for the marginalized, and that's out in the streets ducking tear gas canisters along with the rest of you.
As things go sideways in the newspaper world, the Mercury's commitment to covering city government issues has also become more important. Over the years I've been writing Hall Monitor, I've watched as City Council hearings that were once reliably attended by media turned to reportorial ghost towns.
At the same time, I've seen security at council hearings ramped way, way up, even as access to those hearings has consistently been made more difficult. Mayor Ted Wheeler will barely open up the balcony of council chambers these days, due to security concerns that have still not been satisfactorily explained to me. It's a bad look.
But I also have to say that in the last five years I've watched a lot of city employees working really, really hard, almost always with no acknowledgment. Part of that is on me. I believe the value of a newspaper–particularly a relatively small one like the Mercury–comes in explaining when things aren't working, or might work better, or just don't make any sense.
That's not wrong, but it's also an outlook that ensures the mayor, council members, and other officials often don't get credit when they're doing a good job–or even a perfectly mediocre one–but that I'm more than happy to tweet about Commissioner Dan Saltzman falling asleep in council meetings. Again.
They deserve that credit. So this is me, in probably the last piece I'll ever write for the Mercury, giving it.
The final thing I'll say is that, whether you love, hate, or tolerate the Mercury, I hope you have a sense of how rare it is to have a media market with as many voices as Portland. And I hope you also appreciate that one of the city's alt-weeklies isn't shamelessly peddling Amazon trinkets all day long.
Okay, and just one last thing, since it'll be impossible for me to say it in my next job: Fuck.