Veteran reporter says goodbye to Sun Herald readers

Robin Fitzgerald
Robin Fitzgerald

A prominent official called me this week and asked, “Has the Sun Herald fired you?”

Word had spread that I’m leaving, though I hadn’t made it public.

I haven’t been fired. I’ve voluntarily accepted a retirement package from our parent company, McClatchy.

The package is the best choice for me. I’m not ready to retire, so now I can channel my passion for writing to other markets, hopefully freelance work. I’m not going anywhere, though. I claimed the Mississippi Coast as home 34 years ago.

I’ve never thought about saying goodbye to Sun Herald readers, my colleagues and trusted sources. I’d planned to work here until I decided to retire a few years down the road.

It’s bittersweet, but life happens. I’m turning off my work computer Feb. 28 after nearly 19 years with the Sun Herald.

I’ve seen remarkable changes in publishing since I was 16, when I started working for my hometown paper in Brundidge, Ala. Back in the day, there was no internet, no home computers, smartphones or even fax machines.

Technology and social media became game changers, making it easier for all of us to keep up with news and read stories that inform, explain, give insight, evoke emotions and even amuse.

My job led to heart-warming correspondence from readers, and the cursing of people angry over what I’d written about them. I understand human nature more than ever.

My most memorable stories include allowing families of homicide victims to tell me who they were so they would not be not known just for how they died; working in grueling conditions after Hurricane Katrina and covering the killing of an inmate at the Harrison County jail, uncovering a pattern of abuse and reporting on prosecutions that sent 10 officers to prison.

It’s been my honor to work with a talented group of people, professional sources, elected officials and people who have cared enough about the community to give me tips. Or correct me when I’ve made a mistake. I’m also thankful for supervisors who mentored me.

Above all, I thank God for giving me a passion for writing and bringing me to the Sun Herald.

And I thank you, the readers, for taking the time to read my stories. I hope I have touched more lives than those who have touched mine.

And I leave with what may be a big reveal: My name has been Robin Eyman since I married my wonderful husband 14 months ago. Maybe now I can get used to saying my new name.

Robin Fitzgerald covers real-time news, such as crime, public safety and trending stories. In nearly 40 years as a journalist, her highest honors include investigative awards for covering the aftermath of the fatal beating of a Harrison County jail inmate in 2006 and related civil rights violations. She is a Troy University graduate.