With Morristown, With Patch, It Always Was Personal

Reflecting on time as an editor, reporter and resident of and for Morristown.

My tenure with Patch was far from flawless. Then again, life never is perfect.

True story. One time during a particularly bumpy period, a prominent member of the business community took issue with a question I had posed regarding Morristown's safety. The question came following reports of shots fired on Mills Street (which, to my knowledge, has not been solved) and someone being carjacked on Washington Street (which was solved last year).

It seemed a legitimate question though this person did not agree and informed me of such in an email. The exchange was the final straw before I decided to beat a hasty retreat down to Monmouth County, where I grew up, to wash the negative vibes from my brain.

Soon after settling down at the Starbucks in Middletown, I needed to call another public official, who began our conversation with criticism of the same question, and how they were not the only ones upset.

That was it. I cannot recall what exactly was said, but it involved several words you wouldn't say to your mother, and probably shouldn't say to public officials you regularly need to contact in order to do your job as a journalist covering a three-square-mile town (and, eventually, three towns).

But, that's the thing about Patch. It was never just a job. Justified or not, negative feedback wasn't to me just about some Internet site. It was personal. It always was.

Two-and-a-half years may not seem long to someone at the same job for decades, a job they go to and disconnect from as soon as they leave the office. Though our perpetually-plugged-in world is making that rarer, Patch has been an even-more-connected beast. Two-and-a-half years in a company only around since 2009 is a long time.

Just look to the name. Patch. Since moving to Morristown in July 2010, and launching Morristown Patch on Aug. 16, 2010, I have been thoroughly "patched in" to this job and this town, for better or worse.

The above mentioned meltdown was thankfully far from the norm (and, it had happy resolutions. No harm, no foul, and no feelings hurt ... I think). I am full of fond memories. To name a few: the friends made at Zebu Forno. The friends made covering the town. Morristown's Got Talent. The people that help their communities simply because it's the right thing to do. The people that seek a better life, that strive and survive, no matter how difficult, when others may have given up the ghost.

The stories that shape a town's narrative. The stories that shape a town's landscape. The culture. The celebrations. The and again. Snooki and JWoww.

Life is far from flawless, and so is Patch. But,  waiting as our reward?

Patch was different. Morristown was different. I did not just cover Morristown (and, later, Morris Township and Morris Plains). I lived here. I lived Patch. Can you blame me for being a little thin-skinned?

So, it is with excitement but also a little sadness that my time with Patch ends. Because, as this job ends, so does my time living in Morristown. Both have always been connected and more a part of my life than even I probably won't fully grasp until I'm unpacked and starting the next adventure in South Korea.

If there is a regret in all this it's that when, a few months ago, when asked to take over the Morris Township-Morris Plains Patch, I was unable to provide it the same level of personal attention I had provided Morristown Patch for over two years. It has not been the smoothest of journeys for that site. For this, I apologize.

Though one regret, though far from flawless, I reflect on my time in Morristown and with Patch as a success. As the old paraphrased phrase goes, if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. I am sure more than a few Patch editors would agree, and would also hope a check for all those overtime hours was in the mail.

Thank you, Morristown. Thank you, Patch. It has been my pleasure.

Warren Bobrow February 01, 2013 at 03:55 PM
the BEST to you my friend. You are a true journalist. wb
Natalie Davis (Editor) February 01, 2013 at 05:13 PM
You will be missed SO much!!!
Al Baron February 01, 2013 at 08:02 PM
Good Luck John...enjoy your next adventure.
Berit Ollestad February 01, 2013 at 09:28 PM
John-It hardly seems possible that you are leaving, it seems like you just got here! Although, at times you tackled subjects that didn't exactly make you Mr.Popular. You did it w/conviction & were passionate about your beliefs and positions; I always respected you for that. I never would have thought by simply letting you crash on my couch that infamous night of 'Irene' my life would've taken the turn it did. After being the only two nut jobs in town @ 2am chasing the storm for insane photos; I was hooked & my crazy photo- journalism 'career' began :-) Thanks for believing in me @ offering your not so subtle at times 'helpful' criticism of my work. But most important thanks for your friendship..... You'll be missed ~your fellow storm chaser...Berit
Janet Saulter-Hemmer February 01, 2013 at 09:28 PM
You've done a great job covering Morristown and I have grown to love "Patch" through your reporting! You interviewed me once after the Kleber Cordova murder trial sentencing, and I was impressed with how accurate your story was (considering how many mistakes were in the "print" newspapers!) BEST OF LUCK in Korea - what an adventure!!!
sam fisher February 02, 2013 at 01:19 AM
Thank God you are leaving! Hopefully somebody with a brain takes over for you...
Dw. Dunphy February 02, 2013 at 01:50 AM
Why don't you take over? I'm sure when you're running things no one will ever disagree with you, love everything you say and, OH WAIT, THE INTERNET DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY.
Al Baron February 02, 2013 at 01:54 AM
@sam you communist.
David F Denman February 02, 2013 at 04:57 AM
Maureen & I will miss seeing you out and about in Morristown. We will miss your candidness and honesty in your reporting of the happenings on the town we all love. We hope you enjoy this new chapter in your life and we wish you good health and happiness.
Anna Tivade February 02, 2013 at 11:58 AM
I always enjoyed your writing and your view on things! All the best to you!
Kendra Arnold February 02, 2013 at 01:58 PM
You did a fantastic job while you were here! Looking forward to hearing what's next for you.
Kieran Kole February 02, 2013 at 02:18 PM
Your juvenile comment makes one wonder where your brain is? Maybe you are sitting on it.
Janet Saulter-Hemmer February 02, 2013 at 02:49 PM
Question for you...have they identified someone who will be taking over reporting on Morristown?
Diane February 02, 2013 at 08:01 PM
John, Here's to a wonderful life ahead. I'll miss your reporting, and I'm sure the idiots with the negative comments will have the same negative comments when the next Patch reporter leaves......some people find negativity over the stupidest and insignificant issues! Best of luck, and I know you will enjoy this wonderful opportunity. Diane
Diane Dellicker February 02, 2013 at 10:08 PM
It's a shame to lose you, and I'm not sure exactly what happened, but I do know that some of the comments on these sites have been insulting, to put it mildly. I wish people would accept other people's opinions without having to strike out at them, but that doesn't seem to be the way of the online world. Good luck, John! As you head for South Korea, my granddaughter will be headed home, to Seattle. I hope you enjoy it as much as she did!


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