OLD Media Moves

Personal finance editor says goodbye

August 23, 2008

Helen Huntley, the personal finance editor at the St. Petersburg Times who accepted the paper’s buyout and is leaving after 37 years, writes about why she’s leaving business journalism.

Huntley’s last day is Aug. 29.

Helen HuntleyHuntley writes, “Until just a few months ago, retirement wasn’t on my radar. After working so many years, I wasn’t about to leave any of my Times benefits on the table, which meant working at least three more years. Then the Times offered to give me my benefits early and throw in a bonus. The offer, part of a program to reduce staff costs, almost seemed designed for me.

“I say ‘almost’ because I’m in good health and not ready to call it quits. And it’s not easy to leave a lifelong career behind. Although the journalism business is going through a painful transition now, I believe strongly in the value of journalism in shedding light in dark corners and providing information that helps people make good decisions about their lives. And some days it’s really fun. I got to interview John Templeton, Jack Bogle and other great people and even help catch that crook, Lou Pearlman. I have loved many things about my work and I support the education of future journalists through a scholarship fund at the University of Florida, my alma mater.

“But this decision was about the chance to try something new. One of the most enticing things about an encore career is the opportunity for personal growth that a new line of work offers. I like the idea of a flexible work schedule and continued engagement with the fascinating world of the financial markets. I like the idea of doing something different but still being able to use the knowledge I’ve gained writing about business and finance.

“I know I will be in for an adjustment. Instead of offering broad advice to thousands of readers, I’ll be giving detailed personalized advice to a small number of clients. Instead of working in a big office, I’ll be working in a small one, initially with just one other person. And, of course, there will be no paycheck. As anyone who has ever launched a new business knows, it’s both stimulating and scary.”

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