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Why I quit my job as a reporter today

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Steve Majerus CollinsChristmas Eve, 2015

Twenty five years ago, as a young reporter, I sat in an Upstate New York courtroom where a judge ordered me to hand over a leaked hospital lab slip that showed a state trooper had been drunk during a late-night crash. When I refused, I thought I would wind up behind bars, the culmination of a months-long drama that forced me to confront both the best and worst parts of my chosen profession. In the end, fortunately, I dodged jail time without giving in.

Now, no longer young, I once again face a moment that calls for me to put my own needs aside and to stand once more for principle.

I work for a man, Michael Schroeder, who in 2009 bought the small daily that has employed me for two decades at a time when the future of The Bristol Press looked dim. He came in promising to shatter old ways and to help push the financially troubled paper to new heights. As is so frequently the case with newspaper publishers, his rhetoric didn’t mean much.

By 2011, my wife – a superb fellow reporter who’d been at my side the whole time – quit in disgust after Mr. Schroeder cut a deal with a major advertiser, the local hospital, to keep a damaging news story under wraps. Because she could not let the community know the local hospital had fired all of its emergency room physicians, my wife, Jackie Majerus, handed in her resignation. It means very little to be a reporter if you cannot report the news. I stayed on, though, continuing to write about government and politics, because we could not get by without any paycheck.

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