“It’s time for you to have your own newsroom,” my former managing editor said when I was debating about applying for The Marshall News Messenger editor job.
She was right. It was time.
I had been a part of community journalism for 13 years at my previous newspaper group — a set of weeklies in the DFW metroplex. I decided in 2019 to dip my toe into the wading pool of a daily and was hired on. I thought I knew what it would be like. I had no idea.
Thanks to a patient publisher, a group of hardcore journalists and a forgiving community, I quickly learned. Serving as an editor for a daily paper is not for the faint of heart. I can remember my former publisher Jerry Pye saying, “The first six months you will feel like you are traveling through thick mud. It really takes a year to understand how to do this.” He wasn’t wrong and my year was interrupted by a pandemic.
To be honest, 2020 felt like about six years as an editor. So much stress ... worries about the community, the businesses, our business, our reporters and these deadly germs. The list goes on and on. 2021 has been somewhat better but we are getting there again.
By this point, you may be wondering what this has to do with a “hill of beans” (you’d be so proud of me, Dawn Dillard, for my use of a southern colloquialism). As of Sept. 11, I will be leaving The Marshall News Messenger for another editor position in West Texas at the Hamilton Herald-News. This change will allow me to be closer to my family and friends since I’m originally from the Texas Panhandle. This includes my beloved boyfriend Paul Gaudette, whom I’ve previously written about.
I wish I could take up space in my column writing a special thank you to each person who has been kind to me, but I do have a word limit (even if I am the editor).
Perhaps the greatest thing I can thank Marshall for is the lesson this community taught me about race and class. Growing up in a not very ethnically diverse community, I had a lot to learn about race and about people of color. 2020 provided that learning lesson extremely quickly.
I’ll be honest here because I think we need more honesty in this community. I was terrified at the first protest I covered related to the killing of George Floyd. Not because I wasn’t in agreement with the subject matter but because I was scared to death to say the wrong thing. I’m white; I can’t get around that. But what I learned was to listen, to engage, to report the truth and cover all sides. It’s a valuable lesson and one I’m extremely gracious the Marshall community has taught me.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell my newsroom members thank you. Thank you for trusting me to lead you in a rough time, giving me a chance and for making deadline (most of the time). Bridget, thank you for always providing laughter and stress relief with your candles and funny stories. I appreciate your determination as a reporter.
Jessica, thank you for being open to learning and tackling new things. As a newbie you don’t back down and I really appreciate that in you.
Robin (taking a deep breath here), thank you for allowing me the joy of getting to know Raven and seeing there is great hope in future generations. I will vote for her as president one day. On a personal level, thank you for allowing me to have an open dialogue with you and learning from you as a journalist. You are one of the best journalists I’ve ever worked with and I hope the people of Marshall know how lucky they are to have you. I suspect they don’t.
Nate, thank you for always being there and handling sports to best of your ability. You are incredibly talented and so is Courtney. I hope you guys enjoy your new little one very much.
To both Jerry and Alexander, you guys are really great at what you do, both with different strengths and leadership. Alexander, thanks for letting me work remotely during the ice storm and understanding about Dublin. Also, thanks for convincing me to give Harrison a try. It pains me to say this but you were right about starting a community magazine.
To all the Marshall citizens, thank you for welcoming a semi-young editor into your town and letting me care about you. I will miss the majority of you very much (especially the Harris family.)