So long, Barbourville. After 40 years being away, I’m finally going back to Indiana to be with family.
I say so long because I really don’t want to say goodbye. That’s too permanent.
Two years ago when I first came to Barbourville, I set myself some goals as the editor of the Advocate. Although there are still a few major projects I would love to see finished before I leave, I can be proud of those goals that I have accomplished.
I was determined to give this paper back to the community. Check. Every word on every page is about us, about Knox County.
When I first introduced myself in an Advocate column, I asked for your help in filling the paper’s blank pages. You stepped up. The paper is now filled with great columnists who each have their own followers. We have stories and pictures submitted to us from Union College, Barbourville City and Knox Schools, numerous organizations – thanks Claudia – and lots of people in the community. You know that when you send us a letter, an article, an event, it will be published. We don’t pick and choose who will or will not be published.
I wanted to make the paper credible. Check. People are quoting us. You trust that what you see in the paper is true. If we do make a mistake, we don’t make excuses. We fix it. We apologize and move on.
I wanted this to be an award-winning paper. Check. We won six prestigious Kentucky Press Association awards in 2015. I expect there will be even more in 2016.
Only in the movies will you hear someone in the newsroom holler “Stop the Presses!” It wasn’t on my (bucket?) list, but yes, it actually happened. Since the paper was already printing and we had an extremely important piece of news to get out, yes, we stopped the presses. Charles added a notice to the front page, and told our readers to get the complete story online. It worked. We got a video up on the web and scooped both the daily paper and the TV newscast. In fact, according to the TV producer, this was the second time in a month they had been scooped by our little hometown paper. Hip! Hip!
Did we do all this all on our own? Absolutely not. I always said it would ‘take a village’ to get this paper out. Without the community continually whispering in our ears, we could not fill every page, nor could we scoop the bigger guys.
In fact, when I was asked point blank how I managed to scoop the TV station twice in a month, I simply replied, “This is my town.”
And for the past two years, this has been my town. You accepted me. You took me under your wing. You kept me in check (Thank you Judy: July 31, 2014.), and you kept me motivated.
Barbourville may or may not be my last stint as an editor, but it will always be the most memorable. Where else on this planet will the city’s mayor take the time to pick up the newspaper’s editor after a bad snowstorm and haul her around just so she can take storm pictures and get them up on the web for everyone to see? In fact, how many reporters can honestly say that when they call the mayor, the sheriff, the police chief, the jailer, the college president, the school superintendent or anyone who holds a prominent position in the courthouse, the call is answered or returned?
I can. And I thank you all very much for that.
I’ve learned there’s a big difference between talking on the record and talking to someone you trust. It happens when a person stops saying this is ‘off the record’ and instead says ‘just between you and me.’
So, just between you and me, I will miss you all. I will miss the Advocate.
Thank you for your trust.
Till we meet again.