My mentor is leaving; what do I do?

Mary Ann Hogan
Chips Quinn Writing Coach

Dear Coach,

My boss, who has been a tremendous mentor and friend, is leaving the newspaper to teach. I’m happy for him, but I still am trying to grasp what means for the copy desk and for me. I’m really invested in this place, and I know he has been key to its success. Any suggestions? — Left and Bereft

Dear Bereft,

No one can replace your editor-mentor and the relationship you’ve shared. But trust me: Someone or something will fill the void. That’s the way of the world and, certainly, of the newsroom.

You can learn and grow from change by giving yourself a chance to react and then committing your energy to adjusting and making change work for you.

Do you think you can reframe your feelings of loss into feelings of gratefulness that you’ve had the relationship in the first place? Instead of merely mourning, can you take what you’ve been taught and pass it on to someone else? Can you make your knowledge grow?

The sad truth is that most young journalists never get the chance you have had — to be trained at the side of someone who takes a special interest in their development. Is there someone younger and greener you could mentor? You say your “tremendous friend” has been key to the success of your desk. Can you add to that: “He’s also showed us how it’s done, and we will continue what he instituted”? That is real accomplishment. That is where the magic lives.


Mary Ann Hogan’s Ask The Coach columns, first written for the Chips Quinn Scholars program, are republished with permission from the Freedom Forum Institute, 2019.

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