There are experiences in life that leave a bittersweet taste.
You spend months and in some cases years working shoulder to shoulder to accomplish a task, and the moment arrives that shows whether you are successful or not. A feeling in the pit of your stomach moves to your head. An uneasiness grips you: the realization that many who shared the same experiences, who celebrated when progress was made and shared sorrow when something failed, will not be together again.
Those are tough experiences; they are life experiences.
We went through this turbulent sea of emotions last week.
People who stood together to take two separate and at times antagonistic newspapers and worked to blend them into a single product are no longer here.
As a reader of our product, you were on the receiving end of their efforts - some days were better than others. You suffered through the travails when periods at ends of sentences seemed to magically disappear in the morning. You searched valiantly for the continuation of a story only to learn that it was left on the computer screen the night before.
The lives of others have been chronicled through a handful of bylined writers, but there are many behind the scenes who bring clarity to the photos and order to the story chaos, and then are ready to start again the next day.
They are more than a number on a ledger sheet; they are real people. They experience the emotions of those they chronicle in the pages of the newspaper.
They cover life with its ups and downs but try to put blinders around their own feelings when conveying information to readers.
But reality touches us just as it touches you. We experience the exhilaration of a job well done and the letdown that flows from more difficult times.
The rough patch last week was more pronounced than two experiences earlier in the year. To work through the challenges that flow from a less-than-prolific economy, we tightened our belts. There is content consolidation in several newspaper sections but not content elimination. The decisions, however, led to adjusting our work force. And we have.
At times, reflection is required: where we have been and where we hope to go. We know there are fewer hands on the oars today than when we started this mission together 10 years ago. But our commitment to be the best midsize newspaper in the Southeast remains.
Thanks for the service of all who helped us get where we are today, and thank you for reading and supporting the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
To reach Tom Griscom, call 423 757-6472 or e-mail tgriscom@times freepress.com.