Then and now: A look at former colleagues

Andrea Joseph

In my 15 or so years in the newspaper business – the last seven with South Valley Newspapers – I’ve seen a lot of faces come and go. Some were in the “stepping stone” stage, and moved on to larger communities. Others, having gotten a taste of the industry and found it bitter, returned to school or moved on to completely different fields.
In my 15 or so years in the newspaper business – the last seven with South Valley Newspapers – I’ve seen a lot of faces come and go. Some were in the “stepping stone” stage, and moved on to larger communities. Others, having gotten a taste of the industry and found it bitter, returned to school or moved on to completely different fields.

I began my career began as a reporter, and through the years, moved into the editing and design aspect of newspapers, where I currently reside.

Now, as a more seasoned journalist in a small community, many of the faces I see come through the building are those of new college graduates – fresh faces excited to dive into the business, determined to sharpen their new skills and eager to build their resumes. Admittedly, I’m a little skeptical of new hires because their length of stay is sometimes questionable.

But there have been colleagues who have become good friends, over whose departures I have quietly shed tears and with whom I continue close friendships. Longtime readers will likely recognize their names.

When I was initially hired seven years ago as the night city editor, one of the first people I met was photographer Chris Riley. I was the newsroom rookie and it took some time for us to warm up to each other, but once we did, the friendship was set. Soft-spoken and kind-hearted, “Riley” was known not only for his award-winning photography, but for his raucous parties in San Jose where the newsroom would go to let off a little steam. (Thankfully no one ever made the following day’s headlines.)

Although his departure was sad for me, it turned out to be a blessing for him. It was only after he moved on that he seemed to find genuine contentment, and last year, I attended he and his wife Melanie’s wedding in Napa. In May, they welcomed a baby daughter.

Riley’s photos can now be seen in the Vallejo Times Herald, where he continues his career as a photographer and designer.

Eventually I became editor of the Features section, where I happened upon Neil Diamond aficionado Kelly Savio, the features reporter for South Valley Newspapers. Although her boisterous and high-energy personality initially unnerved me, I grew to rely on her – not only for thoughtful stories, but for a daily dose of giggles. Unfortunately, our adjoining desks were close to our executive editor’s office, and more than once he felt compelled to step out and hush us with a stern glare. But away from the office, our similar humor and loud laughter couldn’t be contained.

Tears came – for both of us – when she left. But life had big things in store for my friend, who received a certificate to teach English and spent a couple of years in Germany. A few years ago, I flew to Munich and she showed me how to navigate the U-bahn, the various trains and find my way to the top of Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain.

Kelly eventually found her way back to California, where she’s now teaching and preparing to start the master’s program at UC Santa Barbara in July, all while spending time with her longtime boyfriend, Vic.

With two companions gone, I wondered who would become my next partner in at-work and after-hours shenanigans. Along came cool and calm reporter Natalie Everett, who covered schools and city issues for the Morgan Hill Times. She and I spent countless hours hiking local trails, climbing to the peak of El Toro in Morgan Hill on the allotted day and keeping up with “The Bachelorette.”

When she and her boyfriend, Josh, moved to downtown Morgan Hill, I helped load and unload boxes of their possessions. When I was briefly out of commission following surgery, Natalie was on my doorstep with homemade dinners – that she was allergic to my dog didn’t stop her.

It was a dark day when she announced her departure and headed down south to pursue further dreams. But a mutual friend’s bachelorette party in Las Vegas brought us back together for a short time late last year. Currently, we keep in touch through calls, texts and games of cell phone Scrabble.

She can now be found at The Signal in Santa Clarita, where she continues to be cool and calm under pressure as that paper’s city reporter and assistant city editor.

And for now, I remain here – seven years and counting. I remain skeptical of new hires and their ability to stick around long enough for me to really get to know them. But my skepticism has been proven wrong several times. Even now I have one or two colleagues who have become close-knit friends outside the office, and I’m sure it will pain me if and when they move on.

But, as it has shown in the past, when one door closes, another door opens to new – and endless – possibilities.

LEAVE A REPLY