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As many of you know, I have a hard time saying goodbye. I am usually one of the last ones to leave a party and my “goodbyes” tend to turn into 20-minute long conversations. Perhaps, this is why it’s taken me a couple of days to collect my thoughts and say farewell to so many wonderful friends and colleagues, who are like family to me.
This week, after 12 and a half years in newspapers, I lost my job. People often asked me why I remained in newspapers or if I’d come up with a Plan B yet. My answer was always that I still believed in newspapers and still loved telling stories. I wanted to be part of the solution to keep newspapers alive – even if it meant that content would ultimately be entirely online.
Reading The Dallas Morning News and my hometown newspaper, the Waxahachie Daily Light, was a tradition, a habit in my family. My father, an immigrant from Mexico who spoke no English when he arrived, was curious about this country that everyone called the land of opportunity. He wanted to fit in like everyone else. He struggled with the language, but because of newspapers he learned new words. He would often point out words and ask me about their meaning. When I got older, he’d often ask if I’d read what Dallas or Waxahachie city officials had done or what a particular sports columnist thought about the Cowboys or Rangers.
When I returned to Texas in 2002, after spending more than six years in Florida, my parents were beyond thrilled. They would finally get to see and read their little girl’s stories. My mom sometimes knew where a story of mine ran before I did, because she’d seen the paper first that day.
My parents don’t have much formal education, don’t speak English that well and don’t have much money. But this they value: the importance of newspapers. I hope that my friends and colleagues who are left behind will remember there are many like my parents who still have a thirst for knowledge – regardless of their background.
On Tuesday, when I walked out of the DMN building, the moment seemed surreal. But I have no regrets. I am fortunate to have worked with so many talented people from whom I learned so much. It is truly an honor. I will miss you guys, but I won’t forget all of the valuable things you’ve taught me.
Keep up the great work!
Stella M. Chávez