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Springfield, MO

Opinion: Plot twist: I’m taking my writing pen to Arizona

Adventures in Ink

Posted online

Life is full of unexpected plot twists. Well, at least mine is.

For starters, I never planned on moving to Missouri. In fact, I was setting roots in Durango, Colorado, for the first time in my adult life – much of which was spent as a nomadic freelance writer living in National Parks and random mountain towns. However, all that changed when I was offered a job as reporter at the Christian County Headliner News in 2014. I said yes.

Spending three years as a legal reporter working in the intricacies of the justice system, business news was not often on my radar – until I heard Springfield Business Journal was hiring a features editor. I sent in a resume, and it worked.

In between all of this, I met, dated and married a Taney County EMT and began working as assistant author writing a medical biography regarding a Mayo Clinic patient with severe chronic pain disorders. That work, combined with my father’s 26-year history with chronic pain, ignited a passion for helping others in their situations. So I began taking classes in bioclinical science and surgical technology.

I’m not finished, however.

See, I’ve simply come to expect the unexpected, and the latest development in this switchback saga of life is around the corner in Phoenix, Arizona.

By the time you read this, my time at SBJ will have ended. This is the final edition with my stamp as features editor; May 11 was my last day.

You’ve probably already met my successor, Christine Temple, who was hired as a reporter last month. Many of you likely also know her from Ozarks Food Harvest and Springfield News-Leader. She’ll introduce herself in her first features editor column soon. The last month, Christine has trained to take on my role and is already integrating well.

I’ve seen her plan for next week’s Banking & Finance issue, and it’s going to be good. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, under the Arizona sun, my husband is employed at a large electrical company, and I’ll have my nose in a textbook. I’m continuing my education – expanding to neurobiology, physiology and psychology. The end goal is to become a soldier for chronic pain treatment. I’m honing skills to use journalism for awareness, psychology to enhance quality of life for patients, medicine for pain management and surgical intervention, and research to find a cure.

In addition to continuing work on the medical biography, I’m also writing pro bono for the Facial Pain Research Foundation and editing for Honor Duty Press, working with veterans and emergency responders.

Having all this waiting for me in Phoenix creates excitement surrounding the move, but it’s certainly no less bittersweet leaving Springfield behind. During the last nearly four years, I’ve come to love this humid state.

Of course, this sadness includes leaving the Springfield Business Journal.

I’ll miss working with the editorial staff – who exude professionalism as they produce news that is immediately important and vital to doing business in southwest Missouri. They are a team of journalists who are trusted and respected in the community. It was an honor to be part of such a team for the time I was here.

I’ll miss the advertising crew and their perpetual enthusiasm. Although our work does not directly intersect, I appreciate all they do. Anytime we cross paths in the office, it was always a joy with plenty of laughter.

I’ll miss the management staff who works hard every day to construct a transparent and honorable business model that puts employees and integrity of content first.

I’ll miss news journalism in general. Throughout the years, I’ve met many incredible people, asked difficult questions, unveiled necessary truth, learned much about the world and made unforgettable memories.

The type of journalism I’m now engaging in will be different than what it’s been in the past – focusing on truth surrounding the “invisible illness” of chronic pain. Coupled with medical and psychology training, I hope to give my very best to this underserved patient population.

Chronic pain needs a spotlight. People don’t know many of these disorders exists, and, therefore, don’t know they should care. This is the basic foundation of journalism. Truth is vital for public health. Yes, that truth can be difficult, but it’s need is indisputable.

The profession of journalism is more vital now than ever. We need newspapers where printed words, research and facts allow for public education and the betterment of humankind. It’s every person’s duty to be informed and pursue factual truth. There’s no reason not to read a newspaper. So keep picking up this one.

Stay informed. Stay truthful. Stay cool this summer.

Goodbye, Springfield. Thank you for the adventure.

Springfield Business Journal Features Editor Hanna Smith can be reached at sbj@sbj.net.

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