This is the second hardest column I’ve ever written.

The first was a few years ago. I was in the throes of grief, having lost two loved ones within a span of weeks. There was a line at the end of that column that I still use to this day. I talked about my heart shattering like glass at the devastation of both losses.

The shards of glass became sand. But somehow, I’m still standing.

And here I am, two years later, still standing. Except this time I stand at the precipice of opportunity, ready to end this three-year chapter and start a new one.

Dear readers and friends, it is with great sadness that I announce I will be leaving my post as the Community/Business Editor of the Press.

But starting Aug. 30, I will take on the role of Business Reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. It will be an opportunity to report on Madison’s vibrant entrepreneurial community, particularly to spotlight the latest innovations coming out of the biotech industry. I will also highlight topics relating to the economy, science, utilities and whatever else my curious mind digs up.

That’s what I was hired for at Wisconsin Media Group, formerly known for two decades as Unified Newspaper Group: my never-ending, toiling, tumbling, tumultuous list of ideas. (At least, that’s what my editors tell me.)

I’ve been like that ever since I was a kid. Being an only child, I had my imagination to fight with more than I had siblings. It was my solace when things got dark, and it was my source of inspiration when content. My imagination has helped me get through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now it is where I consistently turn when I have obstacles to overcome.

When I was first hired in November 2018, my obstacle then was conceptualizing community-oriented stories for the Oregon Observer. Within my first few weeks, I put out a post on Facebook asking readers what they wanted to see from me, and that turned into interviews. Those interviews turned into stories, and those stories turned into memories.

I remember sitting down with a family who cried when recalling how their son became diagnosed with cancer. I watched people get excited about new books and art pieces, as well as passionate about local charitable causes.

And then, July-August 2019 happened: the two worst months of my existence. My obstacle became searching for the leader who was buried beneath years of profound trauma and grief.

With the help of my editorial team and loved ones, I found her, and she helped our four papers and quarterly magazine to persevere through the worst of the health crisis, especially the shutdowns of March 2020; yet another obstacle.

But it was also that leader who crafted a three-part series exposing just how much COVID-19 exacerbated rural broadband connectivity issues, who listened to countless business owners over the phone as their livelihoods disappeared and who localized the national vaccine rollout effort.

That leader built interns up when they were down, and watched them blossom and flourish as they pursued career ventures of their own.

But the above trials and tribulations are only some of what I’ve overcome during my tenure with Wisconsin Media Group. And I’m certain that once I move on there will be more.

But, unlike the version of me that existed in 2018, I stand ready to embrace them.

And for that, I owe credit to my colleagues, friends, family members and to you, our readers.

Thank you. And farewell … for now.

Email Emilie Heidemann at eheidemann@wisconsinmediagroup or follow her on Twitter at @HeidemannEmilie.

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