So here I am, retiring again.
We’re pulling the plug on The Havre Herald today, ending our two-year experiment that was a lot of fun, that broke a lot of news, that uncovered some things people didn’t want uncovered and reflected the diversity of life that this unique part of Montana offers.
Last time I retired — from the Havre Daily News — reporter Paul Dragu looked at me during my going-away breakfast and asked, “So when will we start our own newspaper?”
Sure, I thought, and I went on with my life.
Now, I get to retire again. This time for real.
I’ll be enjoying the good life that Havre has to offer — if only the pandemic will give Havre back its good life.
The Herald departs the scene at a time when the media landscape is in turmoil. All over, daily newspapers are becoming weeklies, weekly newspapers are disappearing, and people in large swaths of the country, especially rural areas, are left with no news service at all. Maybe I’m being too egotistical, but somehow I think the work I have done for the last 48 years is too important to just slither away. Some business models — profit, non-profit, or otherwise — will be found to enable this work to continue.
A whole bunch of young people are charging into the profession full-speed ahead. They are just as enthused and far better prepared than we were several decades ago. On top of the ever-present deadlines, the rotten hours, the low pay, and concern of constantly angering everyone, they have to worry about the persistent fear of being laid off or seeing their organization shutter its doors. But they keep on keeping on. Their uncertain door opens as mine closes.
I can look back at a great career covering news in small towns throughout the United States.
I’ve covered all kinds of fascinating events and personalities. I’ve had the chance to be involved in the stories of the movers and shakers, the politicians, the heroines, the sycophants, the victims, and the scoundrels.
And I made all kinds of moves — the good, the bad, and the bone-headed.
One of the brighter actions was letting some mechanic-turned-freelance writer from Georgia without a lick of experience in newspapers convince me to hire him for a job in a small Montana town just south of Canada.
A few years later, Paul Dragu would become the heart and soul of The Havre Herald, as I was just the hanger-on.
During his time in Havre, he’s uncovered stories about absentee landlords, missing-in-action county attorneys, and a host of things the public never would have known about otherwise.
As I go out to pasture, he will go onto greener pastures. You will be seeing him around Havre in the future, and Havre will be the better off for it
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John Kelleher was a Herald reporter with nearly five decades of experience as an editor and reporter at newspapers across the country. He is now officially retired.