My wife likes to joke that I have a mistress on the side.
“I know where you’ll be,” she says. “You’ll be with Ellen.”
That’s what it sounds like, at least. In reality, she’s saying LN, short for Lima News. It may mean I’ll be on Lima’s Elida Road in the office, or I might be camped out in my home office. Either way, I’ll be focusing on newspaper work.
For the last two months, it feels like I’ve been spending way too much time with LN, my uncaring mistress. It seems no matter how much time I spend with her, she still demands more and more.
Much of that time was spent filling in for our editor and my boss, Jim Krumel, as he recuperated from surgery. I was thrilled to see him return last week, if nothing else so I could spend a little less time with my mistress and a little more time with my other family at home.
Today you get to see some of what’s been keeping me away from my real family. I routinely oversee our two annual Celebrating Our Spirit sections and our salary projects. They’re good things the newspaper does every year, but they’re also things that people underestimate how much shoe leather goes into making them happen.
My poor assignment sheet for the Spirit sections looks like a train wreck these days, given the number of different scratch marks and names next to different businesses and organizations. It always surprises me when local businesses decline to want us to tell readers about the good things happening inside their facilities, but we respect their decision enough to scratch them off and assign a reporter a different business instead.
The “salary project” has a bit of that feel too. We know our readers crave this annual list of salaries and analysis of what those numbers mean, but the people on the list are less excited about it.
This marks the 25th year The Lima News compiled and printed these lists, with the schools printing this week and local governments printing next week.
I know government folks don’t like seeing their salaries printed. My wife was on that list for a few years when she worked for Putnam County, and it was a terse topic around our house. I’ll likely get a few calls asking why we won’t print our newspaper salaries. The answer, simply enough, is I work for a private enterprise that strictly forbids me from sharing my wage, not a government entity paid by taxpayers’ money. I will tell you my annual salary wouldn’t crack the top 10 on any of the lists appearing in today’s newspaper.
To these government professions, I offer this advice: If you’re proud of the work you do, you should never be ashamed of what you make. That’s honestly how I look at many of the salaries I see on the lists. When I think of the number of hours I see superintendents, principals, treasurers and many teachers put into their work, I recognize their per-hour pay may not look so great.
As people peruse these lists, we absolutely want people to call out what they might consider overpaying for inadequate services. We’d also like this to be an opportunity to step back and think about the amount of time and effort some put into doing a good job.
Like me, they have a mistress too, a career they know and love.