InMarket: The Lost Decade or so…

Robert Francis

I was lost. Seriously, deliriously lost. Worse. I was in my own city, my own town, even my own area, the south side of Fort Worth. I have driven in San Francisco, LA and even the wacky streets of London with a stick shift (try that if you ever want to fry your brain). I drove my little Honda waggyvan up and down South Hulen Street looking for my meeting. It was December 2002 and I was meeting with an editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. I was a freelancer at the time, working for a variety of magazines and websites, none of which covered Fort Worth. And that was my goal. I covered stories in New York, San Francisco, London and other far-flung locales, but rarely anything about my hometown. So in answering an ad on looking for business writers for the Fort Worth Business Press, I found myself… lost.

Turns out, despite all my years of living in Fort Worth, I didn’t know the difference between South Hulen Street and Hulen Street. If they had told me the place I was looking for was near where my old buddy Jarvis used to live, I would have known. In my own town I was a “It’s down by that place where that grocery store used to be and next to the old Grover home before it was torn down” kind of guy. After pulling into someone’s driveway on South Hulen, I found my way, in the days before GPS, to 3509 Hulen St. and the office of the Fort Worth Business Press. Though they didn’t pay freelancers much, I took a few story assignments. Truthfully, I figured I was just biding my time until I would have to wave a tearful goodbye to journalism, find some other means of employment and be bored out of my friggin’ mind.

So began my sojourn with the Fort Worth Business Press, first as a freelancer, then full time. I immediately took notice of one fact, something that still infuses me with the desire to get up and do this job each day: People read the Business Press. I felt that right off. Along the way, I had a few little scoops here and there and as I went around town, readers and even a few competitors noticed. Getting lost never felt so good. For a brief time I went back to a full-time job with a computer magazine, traveling the country, making decent scratch and learning about some of the coolest technology in the world. But you know what? I missed the Business Press. So when the computer magazine made the inevitable cutback (the era of computer magazines was over, the Internet ship had long sailed past them), I was offered another slot at the Business Press.

- FWBP Digital Partners -

In those days all we did was post that week’s newspaper on the website and “we” didn’t even do that – our computer tech did. That slowly began to change until, a few years ago, we began posting daily stories – and now it’s a constant stream of news. Even then, through all the changes – and I’ve seen more than a few – the one thing that still impresses me is that people still read, and respond to, the Business Press. We get complaints, sure, but most of the complaints are that we aren’t doing more. So here we are: me, more than 10 years later, and the newspaper, a quarter-century later. To tell you the truth, I sometimes still feel a bit lost – Fort Worth continues to change so much and so quickly it can’t be helped. Journalism, too, is changing and that can leave us feeling a bit lost as well. In both cases, we’ll continue to work to keep up; I know our readers will be watching. As I said, getting lost never felt so good.