Before she says goodbye, Gail Rosenblum says thank you for having the best career ever

While rummaging through a closet recently, I discovered what will probably be my first annotated message. Appearing over the margins of the University of New Mexico’s Lobo newspaper—affectionately renamed the Daily Low Blow by my father—I set forth in painful redundancy the fact that the English Institute building had no working fire alarms.

In intriguing detail, I walked the readers through how the bug was discovered (by an observant English professor, of course!). I included quotes from the unimpressed campus security coordinator, who assured the populace that aside from a few tables and chairs, “the building will not burn.”

Well apparently it never did because after my story ran the alarms were replaced. And I, a theater major who became an English major, French major, linguistics major, poli-sci major, became a journalism major.

Nevertheless, back then – in 1978 – I could never have imagined that I was on the way to what can only be described as a spectacular professional career.

As I write this, my final column as a full-time journalist, my gratitude spills over. OK – it spills over (I’ll change it now before the copier gets to it).

After almost 45 years in the news business – 23 of them here on the great mothership aka the Star Tribune – I’m not exactly about to retire. My friends and I, past a certain age, prefer words that better reflect our intentions: refuel, recharge, reinvent, redesign, rewire.

truth is that poke My head has been getting louder and louder over the last few years – years of working alone from home (an extrovert’s nightmare), with more time to reflect to realize just how much I love the frenetic energy of a daily newsroom miss that will take years to fully return to normal capacity, if ever.

It has become clear that now is the time for me to switch. I’ll be turning my attention (hey, another one!) to mentoring young journalists and providing some much-needed focus to an educational non-profit organization I started in 2019.

I also want to focus on a new passion project that came into our world about three months ago. There’s nothing quite like the arrival of a grandchild to make you jump in headfirst and… well, fix everything.

I want to march on their behalf, knock on the door, put up political signs, speak out openly on causes close to my heart—all activities that working journalists are strongly discouraged from, and in some cases prohibited from, in order to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest avoid . You may not have known that.

But you know—because you often tell me when I meet you at church—that you are just as concerned as I am about my cherished profession, which faces tremendous challenges; Financially certainly, but more worrisome to me existentially as we continue to fight false and offensive claims of “fake news” while opportunists and agitators find too many open avenues to spread untruths through growing social media channels.

If I have the privilege of teaching college journalists, I present them on our final day along with a laminated copy of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. It is remarkable in its reach, wisdom, vision, decency and heart. If you need a reason to believe again in the essential nature of the Fourth Estate, please spend a few minutes reading it.

My stay at the Fourth Estate was exciting and varied. The Star Tribune allowed me to keep reinventing myself (another “r”!). I’ve been the editor of an award-winning feature team, one of the first female relationships reporters in the country (who scared my kids when I attended a sex convention), a social issues columnist for a decade, partnered with photographer extraordinaire Jim Gehrz on our 10 Year Duets project, even an advice column for a while.

A long-term project took me to Vietnam with the photographer Judy Griesedieck; Another article I wrote about my father during World War II served as inspiration for a Christmas play at Westminster Presbyterian Church.

I threw a ball at a Minnesota Twins game – forever grateful for TC Bear, whose impressive wingspan made that catch a sure bet. A few years ago, I even won our company-wide t-shirt contest at the Minnesota State Fair – a baby onesie that said “I’m a Big Dill.” (Got it?) There was no cash prize, but wow, those braggart rights are awesome! However, I hope you don’t think it’s my best work.

I have been extremely proud to represent this company at major events at Orchestra Hall and the State Theater including introducing heroic chef Jose Andres and interviewing Lindsey Vonn as she transitioned from the ski slopes to philanthropy.

And run the inspired section? Well that was a match made in heaven. I am pleased and relieved to see that a growing number of major media outlets are joining Strib in embracing hopeful, solution-focused messages for the benefit of society and our collective mental health.

I’ve long believed that journalism’s ingrained man-bites-dog (aka “if it bleeds, it leads”) model is not only outdated, but increasingly harmful to people. The 24/7 news cycle that bombards us with the worst “breaking news” from every direction is leading to polarization, alarming misinformation, distrust of our cherished institutions, and a collapse in mental health across every age group.

I encourage you to continue reading Inspired in its new home in Saturday’s Variety section. And look for more journalistic solutions that keep you in the loop and out of the fetal position. Some of my favorite news sources are The Solutions Journalism Network; sublime; the Washington Post optimist; The Optimist (Minnesota); The Good Men Project; reasons to be happy; Good News Network and MN Good.

I am grateful to them for reminding us that these stories are as true and as common as anything else you consume.

Most of all I am grateful to you – who for so many decades have invited me into your homes and lives to tell your stories, often when you were most vulnerable. I realize that for so many years I have got times wrong, misunderstood the facts, or misrepresented your thoughts and caused you pain, and I tell you, those mistakes are hard to shake off. All in all, though, it was an incredibly positive, humanity-affirming run.

I never tire of hearing from you how much you appreciate your daily newspaper – the tactile experience of holding it in your hands or the digitally read stories that touched you or motivated you to take action.

Soon I’ll join you, a happy fellow subscriber who complains (because I’m so old) that I just don’t like accessing the news on my phone. And make sure it lands on the steps next time, Woncha?

I leave to fully support my able peers as they continue to plague the easygoing. But I hope they find space to also comfort those affected with stories of hope and what works. Because there are so many of them.

Our building is always in danger, but it doesn’t burn down. Together we can protect it and keep it safe.

Thank you and please sign in.

After 45 years as a journalist, Gail Rosenblum is retiring to focus on a nonprofit she founded in 2019 to nurture a generation of informed, empathetic, and engaged young adults. You can find out more about her first project at milkweedthemovie.com. Her volume of essays, A Hundred Lives Since Then: Essays on Motherhood, Marriage, Mortality and More, updated 2022, is available at shop.startribune.com. Gail hopes you’ll keep in touch with her [email protected].

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