Opinion: There is nothing in the world like a community newspaper
Lockhart, I hardly knew you.
This little adventure I’ve been on the past two weeks, filling in for Post-Register editor Miles Smith, has re-ignited something in me that I haven’t felt in 12 years – a undying love for community journalism.
On Monday, I interviewed for a job with the Houston Business Journal that the recruiter deemed me “over-qualified’ for. I don’t mean for that to come across as a humble brag. I say that because that’s never happened to me before.
But it taught me something.
For years, I’ve undervalued myself. I never thought I was good enough to make that leap and ask for that advancement in my career.
I’ve worked in newspapers for nearly 20 years, beginning with my first internship at The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington, W. Va.
I’ve spent the last 12 years at the Austin American-Statesman in various roles, but the majority of that has been in their community newspaper division.
I was the sports editor at the Bastrop Advertiser from 2008-2012 at which time I was promoted to the copy desk as a page designer.
When I returned to the Statesman after a year in West Palm Beach, Fla. as part of Cox Media Group, the parent company of the Statesman at the time, consolidated production desk for the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Palm Beach Post and the Statesman.
After a year of that, I returned to the community newspapers in Westlake and Lake Travis, where I served as, yep, the sports editor.
I was then promoted once again to the sports desk as an editor where I stayed until recently when I accepted a buyout. And sadly enough, I made the same amount of money in 2018 that I did in 2012.
While all of us in the newspaper business have to make a living, most of us understand that unless you work in upper levels of management at metropolitan newspaper, you aren’t going to get rich.
If you look closely at what you hold in your hand, there’s a lot of love in this newspaper.
The owners, Dana and Terri Garrett, put their heart into making this a valuable tool for the community of Lockhart.
I’ve known Miles Smith for the better part of six years and I can tell you this, you will not find a more passionate community editor anywhere in the Greater Austin Area.
Then there’s the people behind the scenes like Patty Rodriguez, who works diligently with advertisers to make sure their advertising dollars are put to good use and Laurel Coyle, who works to make the digital product a useful tool.
My time with these people has been short – too short. I don’t have a vested interest in this community or any ties here. I’m simply helping out a friend, so he can celebrate his honeymoon, and my new friends to put out a great product of community journalism.
These small-town newspapers are sacred. Sure, they don’t have the resources that say the Statesman has.
They work with a very small staff that has to be skilled on how to do everything from editing an obituary to selling ads.
But it’s that work ethic and that passion that is what small-town journalism is all about.
What else you don’t see is the hours put into making this product what it is. The long nights the editor spends here on Tuesday laying out the paper after spending three hours at a school board meeting.
Yes, Lockhart, you re-ignited that love I have for community newspapers.
Always support these people in this office over here in downtown. They provide an excellent service that is valuable to your community.
It’s been an absolute pleasure serving you the past couple of weeks.
I’ve learned in this business never say never. So, I bid you adieu until we meet again.