Statesman sports editor resigns after 28 years with paper

By Mike Prater

(NOTE: This article first appeared on Mike Prater’s Facebook page on April 3, and is reprinted here by permission)

Words I thought I would never type … Thirty-seven years after my high school yearbook said I would one day become sports editor at the Idaho Statesman, and nearly 28 years after taking a job at my dream newspaper in my beloved homestate, I have resigned.

The decision was made last week and the emotions of the past six days have been off the charts. Even after a weekend getaway to the mountains, where I was supposed to find clarity, there continues to be regret, guilt, some relief and an unbelievable angst about what’s next in my life. But deep down in my heart, especially after talking with the greatest family and friends a man could have, I also know it’s the right thing to do.

A massive reorganization is taking place at the Statesman, which by the way, isn’t dying a newspaper death but is evolving and thriving and will continue to be a 21st century digital journalism giant in Idaho. My job is changing. Many jobs are changing. There is an insane corporate push that doesn’t always mesh with my own personal philosophies. I have new bosses. Sometimes we get along. Sometimes we don’t.

I believe in a strong digital future, but I also believe in strong platforms across the company. This week, production of the Idaho Statesman print product is being outsourced to a corporate hub in California, where the Statesman will be produced, designed and edited by copy editors who know very little to nothing about sports in the Treasure Valley.

The good news is, the Statesman newsroom is full of those types of talented and passionate editors, journalists and close personal friends who will continue to produce compelling content for our digital and print products. For nearly 28 years, I have loved every minute working here, mostly because of those exact same people, past and present. I love my staff. I love my peers. I love everything about the Idaho Statesman, even the four bland walls with no windows, my stupid cubicle, my dumb green lamp and the rusty water fountain that refuses to spit out cold water.

I love everything about this place except the way I’ve felt the last couple of months – a small loss of confidence, passion and daily work ethic. And if you know anything about me, you know there is no way I’m going to give a half-assed effort toward something I love so much.

After being a reporter and columnist since December 1989, I have been the sports editor for about the past 15 years. I start every morning with an editors teleconference call at 8:30 a.m. My goal is to get home by midnight. I work weekends half the year. My family and friends have always come second, and that’s OK because I made a decision a long time ago to dive into a crazy and time-consuming career, a career that has been very good to me … until now.

I’m tired of working 70-hour weeks and going home and beating my head against the wall for another hour, just hoping I can fall asleep before the alarm goes off to start the routine again. It’s time to put family and friends first, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do starting Friday, April 14.

If you have called me over the past 28 years to tell me I’m an idiot, today is your lucky day. I will miss you, too. And for all the hundreds and thousands of other people I’ve met, places I’ve gone, stories I’ve covered and sports sections I’ve edited … it’s been an unbelievable and amazing ride that I will never forget. The Idaho Statesman and YOU have changed my life. Thank you!

Mike Prater is the longtime sports editor of the Idaho Statesman. He also is the co-host of Idaho Sports Talk on KTIK 93.1 FM.