I often wondered in my youth whether there was a certain age when a person makes the transition into adulthood. Legally it's 18, but I can say without any hesitation I was in no way an adult at 18.
Ten years on from the legal definition, and I am confident 28 was the age where I became an adult.
I am a new year's baby, so my age runs congruent with the year. I didn't start my 28th solar cycle as an adult though. It began very much the same way it did at 27 and 26.
About a quarter of the way through the year something happened. My predecessor and mentor Mark Millsap was promoted to publisher of a much larger paper. Subsequently I was promoted to General Manager of this publication.
Initially I thought the prominant new responsibility with this promotion was to ensure we hit revenue and profit numbers, and that is a major part of it.
What I was not prepared for though was the gradual realization that my success is linked to the success of my staff, and my job was no longer to report the truth regardless of the consequences. My job changed to protect the people working for me while also trying to report the truth. These two tenets don't always mesh.
The pre-adult James Bright didn't really care about what the stories he wrote and edited meant for the staff or his community. The reality is journalists are taught how to report the news, but never what to think about the effects said news will have.
Let me be clear, I still champion the freedom of the press and articles that are truthful, and sometimes the truth isn't very nice.
That being said, I have become far more cognisant of my actions, which is why I started this weekly column to begin with.
My staff and I are fully aware of our critics. We know there are a lot of people out there who despise this publication. Some dislike it because of past irritations that have nothing to do with anyone employed here now, and others are critical of things I've done during my tenure.
Regardless of the reason, I want our readers to know why we do what we do. I don't make a decision financially, or editorially without considering the community or my staff.
While in college I worked as a front end manager of a grocery store. I was terrible at it. Just way too immature for the responsibility.
After some lapse in judgement my store director called me into his office to reprimand me. He explained why he takes such pride in what he does and pointed to a sonogram of his unborn baby as the crux of his motivation.
At the time I didn't really get it. I understood his point, but had no way of relating it to my life.
Still the memory stuck with me and it recently occurred to me why I do what I do. The seven people who ride this psychotic horse known as a newspaper with me are my motivation. I do everything I can to see them succeed, and although I have numbers I need to achieve to make my bosses happy, that motivation pales in comparison to keeping my staff employed.
So what's the difference between being a child and an adult?
An adult does everything he or she can for the people they care about and not themselves. An adult isn't selfish, and that's how I look at all aspects of my life now.
Adulthood is much harder than being a child. Taking care of one's needs is simple, but looking after others is far more fulfilling.