How to turn the page, from the Cincinnati Enquirer's Bengals beat writer of the last eight seasons, Mark Curnutte:
I feel intellectually stagnated and burned out by the 24-7 requirements of an NFL beat. I'm worn out by chasing dead air -- comments made by Bengals players or a coach on ESPN or a radio station in Los Angeles or Atlanta.
I've been encouraged by close friends and colleagues to reminisce on nine seasons on the beat. My task is to be honest without turning self-important or self-indulgent. I understand the opportunity I had to tread where thousands wish they could be just for an hour. People care about the Bengals -- the ultimate in the genre that has become reality TV -- and, by extension, the work I tried to do to provide them with accurate, breaking and anticipatory information about the team for which their passion runs high.
But this last story is personal.
I have resisted opinion, as much as possible, on the Bengals beat. I understood the need for analysis, but the straight "what I think" always made me uncomfortable. That stuff is of sports talk radio. Who really cares what a beat writer thinks? Besides, I always thought being right was infinitely more important than being just another guy with an opinion.
Why the move? To start with, I want to grow intellectually and continue to strive for great instead of just good. I might never reach great, but the process is more important than the destination. My previous two stints on The Enquirer's metro staff were the greatest professional learning experiences of my career.
But like I said, it's personal, too. Instead of working up to 35 weekends a year, I want to spend that time with my children and the love of my life, trying to apply the numerous and unfolding clinical lessons of what I could have done better the first time around. At 46, I realize how much I have to learn as a father and a man.
But it was and is the Bengals that people care about and the reason I would be stopped in grocery stores and at the gym to be asked what I thought.. . .
I have worked full-time for daily newspapers since 1981 and started writing for one as a 16-year-old high school junior in 1978.
And my relationship with the newspaper industry goes back even further, to 1974, when I started delivering the Rockford (Ill.) Morning Star -- a paper I would write for 14 years later. Since the experience of that morning paper route, I have been fascinated by the yellow light that burned inside the windows of early-risers, contrasting the northern Illinois mornings that often started in black and turned shades of gray on my long walk.
I found that memory manifest on canvas at the Cincinnati Art Museum this past year. "Mount Auburn Snow" by Edward Timothy Hurley simultaneously took me back 35 years and propelled me 35 years in the future.
I've come as close to expertise on one subject as I can. I am grateful to Enquirer editors for the opportunity to cover a major beat. Where I am going is just as important. It's just different.
I am still very curious about the lights that shine from inside peoples' houses.
But it's time to balance that professional interest by paying a little more attention to the light that comes from my own window.
Tags: Mark Curnutte