Friday was my last day on the job after editing the op-ed page of The Sun for seven years. That's approximately 7,000 op-eds and columns — about 5.3 million words in all.

I would like to say that every single one of those op-eds was a brilliant contribution to opinion journalism, but I am professionally obligated to be truthful. As I pack up my things, there are memories I would like to leave behind -- occasions when, desperate to fill space and running out of time to meet a deadline, I subjected the readers of these pages to a point of view that was not quite ready for prime time.

But for the most part, I feel good about the work I've done here. I've tried every day to give readers something to think about, on issues ranging from fixing the local schools, to attitudes about gay marriage, to when and whether to go to war. I've endeavored to present as wide a range of opinions as possible on the most important issues of the day.

I've been lucky. I've gotten to work with some fascinating and important people — mayors, governors, members of Congress, college presidents, industry leaders. I interviewed Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama when they were competing for the Democratic nomination. For the fifth anniversary of 9/11, I put together a page featuring the searing words of a Baltimore poet and of a local man who lost his fiancee that day.

Perhaps most important, I've also gotten to know and share the opinions of a lot of the people who make things happen in this city, region and state. They are the educators, students, activists, political gadflies and public policy wonks who are in the trenches, doing what they can to make this community a better place.

I've decided to join them in that effort, stepping away from journalism after more than 20 years and plunging into a future that is unknowable but exciting. I'll still be reading The Sun, of course, as it grapples with all the challenges of changing technology and demographics. It is impossible to conceive of a strong, thriving city without a strong, thriving local newspaper pointing out its flaws, heralding its successes, holding its leaders' feet to the fire and urging it on to overcome its challenges and reach ever-greater heights.

Anyway, that's my opinion.

—Mike Cross-Barnet