Now it’s time to say half a goodbye

Permit me to do something today which I usually avoid, and make a personal statement on the occasion of my decision to resign as editor-in-chief of Kathimerini, while remaining editorial consultant and continuing to write articles. In the new year I will turn 65, having spent 43 years as a journalist, 22 of them in executive positions. A management job at a newspaper has many peculiarities. As a business operation, you produce a different product every day. You go to the office and you have 32 blank pages in front of you every weekday and about 100 on Sunday. These pages have to be filled by midnight with material which arrives at the newspaper in abundance, but which demands inspection, evaluation and selection. And, worst of all, it requires adaptation, since events are continuously happening, changing and being reversed. When you go home after midnight after 12-14 hours’ work, you are not even sure that you have produced the best possible product. On the contrary, you feel anxious until morning about what you might have missed, what additional facts the other newspapers might have, what you may not have judged correctly at the speed at which you have to evaluate and decide. Of course, putting out the newspaper depends on a number of colleagues who perform their tasks responsibly and impeccably. But managerial responsibility at a newspaper is not delegated or shared. And when the level of competence of one’s fellow workers is very high, as it is at Kathimerini, then it is natural that there are different opinions, viewpoints and explanations. Frequently, our collective discussions do not arrive at any specific agreement. Then, the chief editor’s opinion and decision is inevitably imposed. This is done more in terms of taking responsibility for any mistakes, and never as a claim to infallibility or simply knowing best. I mention all this in an attempt to describe the life that a managerial job imposes on a journalist. You may feel physically and mentally vigorous, and retain the energy that originally attracted you to the profession 40 or so years back, but if the truth be told, at the age of 65, it is time to think about other obligations. Above all, obligations toward your lifelong companion, whom you have neglected for decades, spending all day with a more demanding «lover.» Obligations toward your friends, whom you see rarely and briefly, usually after midnight. Instead of enjoying their company, you probably have displeased them with the weariness and anxiety you have passed on to them. There are obligations to the younger generation of colleagues who followed in your steps for years and supported your leadership so firmly. And obligations to your employer, who not only trusted you and valued your work, but also entrusted you with hiring new and capable staff for the newspaper. I have the added satisfaction of being succeeded as editor-in-chief by Antonis Karakousis, formerly managing editor and a worthy representative of the new generation of journalists. It is a generation which we older journalists often lump into a group and underestimate, invoking the good old days of journalism. But I think this tendency to glorify and idealize the past is a typical sign of the arrival of old age which I always try to put off to the remote future. I believe that we of the older generation must retain our ability not only to distinguish and value our highly capable young colleagues, but also to admire their work. And if they need our contribution, it’s up to them to decide. Communist Party chief Aleka Papariga, whose party is against the euro, commented: «It is a useful tool for the few, to collect greater wealth, but it will also constitute a useful tool for the many, for all those who need to pass from delusions to the great reality of action.»