Farewell to my journalism career

The time has come for me to say goodbye to the only profession I’ve ever known — journalism.

Although I wasn’t actively seeking a new job, an opportunity presented itself that I simply cannot pass up. And with a milestone birthday coming up, I feel like it’s the right time to start a new career.

And what a career this has been. Thursday, Aug. 19 was my last day, after working 18 years at The Advocate-Messenger. I have been a plate-maker for the printing press, news clerk, editorial assistant, reporter, photographer, researcher, receptionist, and typist. I worked for The Advocate during college and several years thereafter as reporter and editor for a weekly newspaper in Stanford. I also had a brief stint as a reporter/editor for a weekly newspaper in Louisville, and have always dabbled in studio and freelance photography.

And I believe I’ve learned from the best in the business, beginning with publisher Mary Shurz; editors John Davis, John Nelson, Ben Kleppinger, and currently, Jeff Moreland; and many reporters including Brenda Edwards, Bobbie Curd, photographer Clay Jackson and the late Todd Kleffman and Herb Brock.

And I have absolute faith in Olivia Mohr, and other up and coming young journalists, to continue covering the news of the day and writing quality news stories to keep the public informed on what’s going on in their communities.

I’ve been through times when we covered elections until late in the night, breaking news stories that took incredible team coordination like when inmates set fire to Northpoint Training Center, and other fast-paced events. But I’ve also done my share of desk time, typing up news releases and public records.

There’s always plenty of meetings to cover, between city and county governments, school boards and various committees. There are some things I preferred to do, like catching the early-morning dew on a crisp fall leave with the perfect lighting. And there are things I preferred not to do, like covering car accidents.

I loved showing the good side of the community, such as when a new mother saved a stranger’s life; and a man who donated his kidney to save his neighbor’s life.

This newspaper covers in-depth stories that can’t be found on any social media site — like the series explaining the findings and aftermath of the pipeline explosion in Lincoln County, or the mystery surrounding a local attorney’s death. We’ve had an impact on the state’s bail reform, and kept local residents in-the-know about lake pollution.

I take pride in our paper. We take the time to explain why something was done, from taxes being raised to why roads haven’t been fixed, or why a public official was fired, for example.

It’s a source that shows how our local law enforcement is keeping our community safe. And it is the one place where public court records can be read, property transfers are recorded and where families can honor their passed-on loved ones in obituaries.

I’ve always appreciated when readers call in news tips, relaying story ideas, often provoking attention from local officials, resulting in action.

But sometimes covering events and putting a newspaper together can feel like a thankless job. We work long hours to cover the news, featuring local personalities and news that are important to our community. We may not be able to cover it all, but we try.

Everyone probably knows the impact of a digital world on a printed newspaper — we cover all the news we can, but it takes subscribers and advertisers to keep it going.

I’m proud of what this paper has accomplished during my tenure here, and thankful I was able to be part of the synergy — from the press room to the news bullpen.

The Advocate-Messenger has been keeping the historical record of Boyle County and its communities for more than 156 years, and I pray that the newspaper — in one fashion or another — will be able to continue that tradition for decades to come.