Friday was my official last day as editor of The Messenger.
I’m sure for some of you, this comes as welcome news. To others, it might be a bit of a shock. For me, however, it was simply time to step away.
My career has crossed into many different professional sectors — some good experiences and others, not so much. But through it all, I’ve attempted to stand for something, to do what I felt was right. I’ve had successes and failures along the way. The proverbial ups and downs of life.
I can honestly say there was no job I had that was more important than that as editor of this paper. Some of you may scoff at that notion — but it’s the truth. And, it’s really not even a close call.
I was a mere child when I first got into journalism 30-plus years ago. Today, I feel more like a dinosaur than a kid. I’ve changed and the business has too.
My first career in journalism lasted roughly 10 years, the second — just three with an 18-year gap in between.
When I left the profession in 2001, newspapers were still king. Yes, the internet was a factor but nobody really knew just how much that new forum of sharing information would impact the print business.
To put it into perspective, when I worked at The Messenger in the late 1990s, I served as managing editor of the newsroom — second in command of a staff of seven reporters, two photographers and a couple of copy editors. The building was bustling with people who worked in the various departments — advertising, classifieds, press, circulation and more.
When I came back in 2018, there were less than 10 people in the entire building ... and even fewer today.
To say the least, the landscape looks different than it did all those years ago, and these changes aren’t unique to The Messenger. Nationwide, newspaper employment has been cut in half in the past decade. Many smaller communities, and some not so small, have lost their local papers altogether.
What hasn’t changed, however, is the important role a newspaper can and should play in a community like Madisonville and Hopkins County.
Newspapers, I firmly believe, are the last bastions of truth. If done correctly, newspapers like The Messenger can still bring you information that you will get nowhere else in an unbiased form.
Is it perfect? No.
Just like you in your professional life, we sometimes fall short. We miss things, or perhaps we didn’t have enough bodies to be at everything. But I can tell you without hesitation, no other media entity covers this community like The Messenger.
Do you feel the pride in my words?
I hope so, because I remain boastful of this paper. A quick search through our archives and you will find countless stories of hope, perseverance and achievement from your neighbors and friends.
The little girl raising money for a food bank, the cancer survivor lifting others up through their story of triumph, and the high school sports standout rushing for four touchdowns in a team victory can all be found in endless supply through past editions of this paper.
Also included in past publications are stories regarding the spending of your tax dollars, the individual who is accused of harming another and factual information regarding your health and options available.
News isn’t always pretty, nor is life. That’s just fact. As editor, it’s been my job to balance those things out in an attempt to bring you a paper that is a fair representation of the community in which you live.
I grind over the stories I assign to my staff to the point where my sleep and overall health has been impacted. No need to worry, it’s nothing antacids and a cold beer can’t fix — but the struggle is real.
The next person to fill this chair will likely do the same — it comes with the job.
Here’s my message to you — the community: If you want a paper that serves as a true reflection of the place you call home, buy a subscription. If you are a business looking to support the local economy, buy advertising space within theses pages or online.
Ultimately, in the end the type of paper this community has is dependent on what it is willing to pay for in terms of its collective support.
So with that, I step off my soapbox and retreat back to a more private life ... and somewhere the mayor smiles.