Andy Russell reflects on his career change which, later in life, is an exciting challenge and certainly not the end of his world of work.
Fifteen years ago the prospect of being made redundant from a newspaper publisher was a scary one but now the reality of it actually happening to me is an exciting new challenge.
Yes – after 38 years at Eastern Counties Newspapers, rebranded as Archant, and 29 of them as a motoring journalist – I jumped at the challenge of a pay-off and striking out on my own.
Falling advertising revenues, squeezed budgets and a media market changing faster than anticipated, meant a group motoring editor was surplus to requirements like so many before me – compositors, sub-editors, proof-readers…
Now, two years off 60, with grown-up kids who can fend for themselves and a wife who is a successful businesswoman, I’m happy to be a kept man… until the wife made the decision that I was going to be a self-employed editorial content provider. A ‘freelance’.
To be serious – not something I’m known for – it’s something I had been contemplating for a couple of years (I’ve bored so many co-drivers with my dream that I was running out of people wanting to drive with me) and redundancy gave me the push I needed to take the leap, and a reasonable pay-off to cushion the landing.
When I started in journalism in Norfolk, Eastern Counties Newspapers was the only media publisher within a sensible commute. Now, with companies having websites and dabbling with social media (but not always knowing why or how), many businesses are publishers too and realising they need entertaining, educational, trusted, quality content for their websites. And that’s where I can help them.
With my motoring background, I will continue to work with local dealers, mainly in Norfolk and Suffolk. But decades of being a journalist writing those dreaded ‘ad features’ means I can find an interesting story or angle in any company’s operation and supply words, pictures and even video.
It didn’t take me long to decide to leave Archant when the opportunity arose.
On the negative side, I won’t have a guaranteed income (but, in the tough economic climate, that can end any time as I found out) and won’t work with a lot of people I really like. On the positive side, I don’t have to live with the threat of redundancy, won’t have to work with some people I have no respect for, can regain a sensible work/life balance after years of longer hours as a result of constant cutbacks, will have far more variety of work, get out of the office to interact with people face to face and, hopefully, have a lot of fun in the process.
I won’t have a different car every week, but I still have transport, and I’ll miss the fun of car launches, but not the four-hour drive each way to get there!
But I’ll still be writing about a subject I love and will still be a member of the SGMW, so in touch with people whose company I enjoy. And, with time now my own, I can get more involved in the group… if Denise will let me! And it’s got to be better than doing the cleaning, ironing and shopping.