I don’t think I’m a foreign correspondent anymore

Note: This blog post also ran in the Society of Professional Journalism’s “Journalism and the World” blog. Click here to see the original post (and comments).

Today, I finally realized that I’m not a journalist anymore. Just now, about five minutes ago.

Great thing about keeping a blog — years later, I’ll be able to look up the exact moment at which my 15-year run as a journalist ended.

This weekend, I received my third offer this year to buy out my company.

Tomorrow, I have a choice between attending the annual meeting of the Foreign Correspondents Club and a business meeting –and I picked the business meeting.

On Saturday, I had lunch with a friend who told me that when he first came to Shanghai, he had all kinds of friends — but the only friends he’s got now are entrepreneurs. He was talking about the fact that entrepreneurs get tied to China by their companies, while everyone else leaves. But what he was also saying is that your friends determine who you are.

All my close friends now run companies. When I first came to Shanghai, all my friends were journalists. I’m not close to them anymore, but not because they left China. Some did, but others are still around.

It feels a little like someone died. Or, more accurately, like high school graduation.

I love journalism. I had a lot of different jobs before I became a reporter. They were all fun — when work was good. But most of the time, work was just work, and the jobs were excruciating. I couldn’t quit them fast enough. Reporting was the only work that was fun even when at its worst.

Pretty much any day over these past fifteen years I could have said — and often did say — “I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this.”

It’s been a fantastic run.

Signing off in Shanghai,