When the Rocky Mountain News went down for the count in February, the Denver Post brought aboard a slew of the tabloid's brand names: Mike Littwin, Dave Krieger, Lynn Bartels, Kevin Vaughan, etc. In addition, the paper also reached out to a onetime Rocky reporter who had not yet become a household name: Gargi Chakrabarty. But local journalists weren't surprised that she was singled out. In her nearly six years as a reporter at the Rocky, often concentrating on the energy industry, Chakrabarty had established a reputation for fairness and doggedness, as well as an ability to make complex stories readable and understandable.
All of which makes her departure from the Post after a few short months that much more regrettable -- and the fact that her position won't be filled (in the immediate future, the energy beat will be divided among remaining business-department staffers) hardly lessens the sting. Still, Chakrabarty isn't leaving because of any dissatisfaction with the remaining Denver daily. "I can't talk for others, but for me, it's been beyond my expectations," she says. "They've been so nice and so welcoming."
So why is she going? For personal reasons that grew more complicated as time wore on. Although she's been married for four years, her husband has spent most of that time living in San Diego, where he worked for Vertex Pharmaceuticals as a patent attorney. Predictably, neither enjoyed the travel necessitated by their addresses in different states, and last year, they began making plans for him to relocate to Denver, even buying a house here. Before the move could be completed, though, the Rocky was put up for sale -- and given the jeopardy this placed on Chakrabarty's job, they decided to put their new arrangement on hold. He subsequently received a promotion that required him to be based in the Boston area, at Vertex's Cambridge headquarters -- and he accepted the offer before Chakrabarty was hired by the Post. At first, they thought they could go back to their long-distance routine. But the greater gap between Denver and Boston, as compared to Denver and San Diego, eventually convinced both of them that something had to give.
These days, of course, any market is a difficult one for a job-seeking journalist, but Boston could be the worst, thanks to labor negotiations at its dominant daily, the Globe, that have put the long-term survival of the paper in doubt. Still, Chakrabarty decided to head there anyhow -- and although she worried about how Post editor Greg Moore would react, she needn't have.
"I was really dreading going to Greg and telling him that I was putting in my papers," she admits. "I thought, should I go in or send an e-mail or just hide and pretend, becuase I've just been here for two months, and I've never done this kind of thing before. But when I told him why I was doing what I was doing, he said, 'Yes, I understand. I have a family, and I wouldn't trade my family for anything. I wish you the best, and let me know if I can help you in Boston in any way.'"
This last comment was a significant one, because Moore worked at the Globe prior to taking the editorship at the Post. "Given the state of the industry, I don't know that I'll ever find a job as a journalist and need his help," she allows. "But the fact that he said that gave me a lot of peace of mind. As I'm walking out of this, I'm not feeling guilty or blaming myself for anything. He made it clear that family's the most important thing and what I'm doing is just fine -- and coming from him, that was great."
When asked via e-mail if he would be anointing a new reporter to cover the energy-related matters in which Chakrabarty specialized, Moore replied, "I will not be replacing her with an outside hire, but the energy beat is important and we have people interested and able to cover it." That's the way things were done before Chakrabarty arrived, she points out, and she's sure the remaining staff will handle things well in her absence. "I'm not surprised" that Moore reached this conclusion "given the financial constraints newspapers are facing in general," she says. "The Denver Post is not excluded from that."
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As for her own employment situation, she's accepted a job with Electric Utilities Consultants, Inc., a Denver firm. She'll be "writing and editing their weekly newsletter, writing online articles for them, and also helping them find speakers and topics for conferences," she notes. "I'll be able to do all that remotely from Boston. I don't have to be here."
In many ways, she'd like to be. She speaks fondly about her new Post colleagues, as well as Rocky supervisors such as John Temple and Jim Trotter -- and she laughingly describes Boston's weather as "crappy" compared to Denver's. "I'm leaving Denver with so much love and affection," she says.
But in the end, family comes first.