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A misfit’s lament

Citizen Staff Writer



After 30 years of award-winning writing and editing, from The Denver Post to The Miami Herald, I don’t meet the “minimum requirements” to be a Denver secretary or a Colorado Springs office writer.

Closer to home, the résumé I submitted to Raytheon Missile Systems fell straight to the bottom of its pile.

Only newspapers, it seems, will hire a proven commodity despite the lack of initials behind her name.

And with newspapers imploding across the land, this college dropout now faces a terrifying future.

It’s a bitter pill indeed after 40 years of industriousness. But let it serve as a cautionary tale, for the rules have changed.

My favorite editor ever, F. Gilman “Gil” Spencer, didn’t even finish high school. But he won a Pulitzer Prize in Philadelphia and steered the New York Daily News and The Denver Post to new heights.

It’s a good thing Gil is retired. Nowadays he wouldn’t get past the computer programs that filter out anyone lacking a bachelor’s degree.

Neither can I. After a year of majoring in vocal music at the University of Arizona at age 17, I had to go work for a living.

Through a succession of grunt office jobs, I came to “thank the Lord for my fingers,” as Paul Simon sings.

But when the boredom became unbearable, I sneaked back to UA to study journalism on the side.

A class here, a class there, and finally a gig at the Arizona Daily Wildcat, where my passion spurred me to quit a high-paying job running Hogan School of Real Estate in exchange for $50 a week in Wildcat chump change.

I don’t regret it for a nanosecond.

I had six weeks with charismatic editor Hans Laetz, followed by 30 years of high stress, mediocre pay and pure joy, with all boredom banished.

Yet while I brag about my Ph.D. from the School of Hard Knocks or compare my self-taught approach to that of Abraham Lincoln, I’ve always regretted my lack of formal education.

That’s likely why I became something of an expert on education in Denver, scoring fellowships in Seattle and New York City to further my knowledge in that arena.

It’s why my favorite Colorado news photograph always was of the “cap toss” by gleeful graduates of the Air Force Academy.

It’s why I fantasized about someday working at UA, where I could finish a degree in my spare time.

And it’s why my daughter’s junior high disdain for learning is driving me berserk.

Granted, I’ve known Ph.D.s who were veritable idiots, and I’ve known brilliant but uneducated folks.

But that reality isn’t opening doors for me now.

We used to warn newspaper interns in Denver, “It’s not too late to change your major!”

Alas, it’s too late to change mine. Research, writing and editing skills always will be in demand. But you have to get past that filter first.

So finish that degree and decoupage that diploma, young friends. It’s worth far more than you know.

As for me, I’m still that tenacious newswoman looking for someone smart enough to hire a proven commodity – even without initials behind her name.

Hire Billie Stanton; reach her at 573-4664 and bstanton@tucsoncitizen.com or billiestanton@gmail.com.

Our Digital Archive

This blog page archives the entire digital archive of the Tucson Citizen from 1993 to 2009. It was gleaned from a database that was not intended to be displayed as a public web archive. Therefore, some of the text in some stories displays a little oddly. Also, this database did not contain any links to photos, so though the archive contains numerous captions for photos, there are no links to any of those photos.

There are more than 230,000 articles in this archive.

In TucsonCitizen.com Morgue, Part 1, we have preserved the Tucson Citizen newspaper's web archive from 2006 to 2009. To view those stories (all of which are duplicated here) go to Morgue Part 1

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