EDITOR’S CORNER: Moving on, but not moving out
As I sit and write this, it’s hard for me to believe my time as editor of the Lockhart Post-Register is drawing to a close.
Twenty-one months ago, I took over the office from where I currently sit in front of my trusty Mac, ready to get to know the community, start telling its stories, and continue the tradition of local news coverage the Post-Register has provided its readers for more than a century.
When I took the job, my peers were excited to hear that I’d found my way back into the editor’s chair of a newspaper, spared from the grueling evening shifts associated with being a designer and copy editor at a gargantuan design house responsible for hundreds of newspapers that all look the same and have little room for individuality and creativity. The most common question I would hear? How big of a staff did I have to help me cover news, cover sports, design the paper, shoot photographs and build special sections?
“You’re looking at him,” I’d deadpan every time.
I enjoyed the looks of surprise I’d get when people learned I technically made up my newspaper’s entire editorial department. It was kind of neat – people’s disbelief and appreciation for the job I was doing made me feel a little more like Atlas than Sisyphus. Given the choice, you’d rather be a mythological Greek character who holds up the planet rather than one who mindlessly pushes a stone up a hill.
But I realize that every time I answered that question, I wasn’t entirely accurate.
In the office, I had our publisher, Dana, who has owned this paper since the year I was born and would always provide context as I’d prepare to cover something for the first time. Co-owner Terri gave me more story ideas than I can count, often telling me just who to call and giving me a good way to get in touch with them. And you can’t say enough about Patty, who’s been at this paper three decades and knows the ins and outs about how everything in this office works.
These three folks make up foundation of this office and this newspaper and have for decades. As long as an editor listens to them, he or she is going to be just fine.
But the help I’ve had goes beyond the current staff. Strong correspondents and photographers have covered quite a few weekend assignments for me, giving me a day or two to recharge my batteries and give the wheels on the car a rest. In Martindale, Linda Elliott has done an otherworldly job writing a thorough roundup of what’s going on in her community and being our eyes and ears out there. My outstanding photography help has included Mike Annas, Adrian Gutierrez, Laurel Coyle, Vanessa Lain Torres and, most recently, the talented Ursula Rogers.
And let’s not forget the help I get from Lockhart ISD. Communications director Christina Courson churns out press releases and photos, pitches story ideas and facilitates communication between the paper and whomever it needs to talk to. Without her, I’d easily work 10 more hours a week.
I’m not going far. Just moving a block over to city hall, where I’ll be the new public information officer for the city. I’m excited to be the first person to have that title, because it presents many opportunities to improve communications between the city and its residents in much the same fashion that Ms. Courson has been able to do for the school district. I’m going to continue telling the story of Lockhart and singing its praises. I’m just going to be doing so from a different office, social media account, website, and email address.
And fittingly, it’s a way for me to pay things forward. By joining the ranks of those who’ve helped me over the better part of two years, I can help support our new editor and the local newspaper that this community is fortunate to have.
I want y’all to give Wes Gardner a warm welcome and show him the kindness you’ve shown me over the past two years. He’s an excellent writer and has the tenacity every good investigative reporter needs, but the ability to put on a different hat and cover a feel-good feature story when the situation calls for it. I’ve worked with him before and can vouch for him.
Y’all are in great hands.
It literally takes a village to do what we do over here.
I’m glad I’ll still be a part of it.