When former New Orleans Saints player, current ALS fighter and forever fan favorite Steve Gleason posted this inspirational commentary to a private Facebook group called “Friends of The Times-Picayune Editorial Staff,” it immediately drew scores of “likes” and 40 grateful comments within the small, tight-knit group. Many wrote that Gleason’s take puts the situation of scaled back publication and job cuts at the T-P in perspective while offering hope for those facing major change and challenges.
The Lens editors felt a broader audience would appreciate Gleason’s words, reprinted here with permission from Team Gleason.
To the staff of the New Orleans Times Picayune:
I have not spoken with one person who understands the upcoming 3 day per week publication of the New Orleans Times Picayune. I have heard the dismay of readers and the pleas from both the community and employees as they anticipate reductions this fall.
As someone who’s lost most of his physical abilities over the past twenty months, I can tell you that the anticipation of loss is worse than the actual loss itself.
I am hoping not to be fantastically optimistic with this letter but to be realistic and, possibly, encouraging.
In January, 2011 I was losing the ability to run. At the time, I was so dreading that loss I wasn’t sure what I would do if I could no longer run.
When it finally happened, I was forced to search myself for new avenues of joy. You see, I love to run. Not only that, I was really, really good at it.
But. New joyful avenues have emerged. Writing. Photography. Film.
It has not been easy. I have needed a lot of support. We’ve had to be very creative…
… And the losses continue to mount. Walking. Playing guitar. Typing.
But with each loss we have worked to find a beautiful replacement. To the point where it feels less like loss and more like gain.
None of this seems fair. Why would a profitable, all-star newspaper operation be filleted to a fraction of itself?
News flash: life IS fair. It’s impartial to you, me and others. But (in my opinion) the impartial nature of this life is what makes it so awesome, and every moment spent dwelling on the “injustice” is a moment of loss.
We all have the choice of which role we will play in life. Victim or hero?
For twelve years I’ve enjoyed the coverage by the Times Picayune. I’ve befriended journalists, editors, and staff. Recently, the paper has been a platform for Team Gleason to raise ALS awareness globally. The support we have received has been remarkable. Like most successful companies, at the Times Picayune, the key ingredient has been the people. This is what makes this upcoming transition so difficult. For New Orleanians, the journalists, editors, and staff are not faceless talents. They are our friends. Our family. Our community.
In New Orleans we enjoy our paper and its coverage but we love our people.
Most recently I have been struggling to speak. I wont lie. I have had moments of dread anticipating that loss. I still have much to say. But somewhere deep inside me I believe in seeking avenues that will creatively allow my voice to be heard. Avenues that will transform loss to gain.
Whether you were one of the dozens who lost their jobs or count yourself among those who have been retained at the new company, I would encourage you to be persistent and pursue néw creative avenues to do the same. Seek new ways to share the stories that are so unique to New Orleans with the world.
It will not be easy. But I think it can be awesome.
Headline: awesome ain’t easy.
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