Monday, July 23, 2007

Farewell from Suzanne Pullen

Here's a note former Chronicle reporter Suzanne Pullen sent to her colleagues on Friday (with her permission, the note was edited for this blog):

I started out as an editorial assistant on the weekend night desk for the Hearst Examiner in April 2000 after Jason Lloren recommended me for the job because I needed some extra money. I moved over to the PM desk after the merger and laughed more than I thought possible before noon at the running commentary and prison lingo. I got the chance to know some of the most distiguished veterans of the merged papers, too. I feel lucky to have snacked on Malcolm Glover's pretzels and jelly beans, had lunch with Sandy Zane and heard stories from Lynn Ludlow. I've had a blast playing softball with Reid Sams and other talented ballers, including Heather Smith, Mike Moffitt, Suzanne Herel, Benny Evangelista, Matt Petty and Al Saracevic. I was honored to walk in the Avon 3-Day Breast Cancer walk with Liz Mangelsdorf, Jenny Strasburg, Rachel Gordon and Ilene Lelchuk because of the overwhelming success of the Men of the Chronicle Calendar fundraiser.

I was told I would never be a reporter at this paper — that I would only be an editorial assistant. But then a wonderful, under-appreciated staffer, Bob Stephens, told me whom to pitch stories to. Greg Lewis gave me my first assignment and John Koopman became my mentor through two years of freelancing for virtually every section of the paper. Deborah Brown assigned me to Question Man (I'll always remember Willie Brown answering one week's question by telling me his favorite San Francisco movie was Steve McQueen's "Bullet" because his car mowed down newspaper boxes). And then in 2003, Heidi Swillinger and Phil Bronstein gave me a chance to become a full-time reporter for ChronicleWatch. I am grateful to all the editors I have worked for who believed in me, including Robert Rosenthal, Marcus Chan and Alison Biggar, who gave me a chance that changed my life and helped the lives of thousands of other bereaved parents.

I may not have always agreed with the people directly in charge of my destiny at this paper — and I definitely made that clear as most of you who have been in a staff meeting with me can attest to — but I am grateful for the chance to work with some of the most intelligent and inspired people I have ever met. Unfortunately, many of them have left the paper.

Too many women, too many minorities, too many part-time mothers, too many senior staffers with invaluable institutional memory, too many young writers with incredible potential have left.

Still, there is a strong heart that beats at this paper. I saw proof of that heart two years ago in the cards and flowers that co-workers sent after my son was stillborn — I will never forget the care shown to me, from the publisher's office to the mailroom people. (Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.)

Please don't forget that you all have a voice. Speaking up, questioning decisions, demanding proof and trying to get the story right when it comes to what goes into the paper is your job, but it is also your right to do the same of those who run it.

But what do I know, I was just an EA who didn't take no for an answer.

I will miss this place ... and what most of it stands for. Thank you to everyone else I didn't mention who has made my time here more than worth it. I look forward to reading your stories on the other side.

From your loud mouth, passionate and stubborn co-worker,

Suzanne Pullen

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." — Eleanor Roosevelt

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