Tuesday, May 12, 2009

25 years as a journalist

As of this week, I've worked at The Wilson Times for 25 years. That's a really long time. Long enough to get married, buy a house and raise a family.
I graduated from Atlantic Christian College on a Sunday and was at work on Tuesday morning, learning how to do food pages from a very pregnant Katy King, whose job I took.
It was Hal Tarleton (managing editor was his title then, I think) who told me about the job. Hal had taught a journalism class at AC, and I was in it. He remembered me when the job came open and called to see if I was interested. It's amazing how a decision as innocent as taking a single journalism class led to my newspaper career.
I was so very nervous on my first day on the job. But my boss, Ginny Stoecklein, and I quickly became friends, although I am younger than her children. My main jobs back then were typing weddings, doing food pages and writing feature stories. Ginny also taught me how to do layout, which wasn't much different than how I had done it as editor of The Collegiate at Atlantic Christian College.
Over the years, my job has evolved. When Ginny retired in 1988, I was named Lifestyle editor, and a new chapter started. Now, in addition to my duties in the Life department, I also do copy editing in the newsroom.
I have made so many wonderful friends in my years here in departments from one end of the building to the next. My co-workers went to my wedding, visited me in the hospital when my children were born, came to my house for dinner, invited me to their house for dinner, came in large numbers to grieve with me at my father's funeral.
They are true friends who share my life 40 hours a week and then some.
We have laughed together, and we have cried together. We've shared cakes at birthday parties, wedding showers and baby showers. We have rejoiced in long-awaited births or engagements, and we have mourned the loss of loved ones from sickness and even murder.
In the past 25 years, I've become identified not only as Robert's mom or Anna's mom or Reggie's wife, but as "that lady from the newspaper." My job has become very much a part of who I am and how people remember me.
This job has also given me the opportunity to meet so many people and the privilege of telling their story in the pages of our newspaper. I've told sad stories of people dying from incurable diseases and happy stories of people who have done good things with their lives. And I've had the pure joy of sharing some of my favorite recipes with readers, who are all the time telling me they tried my recipe in Wednesday's paper, and the family loved it! It makes me so happy when I hear things like that.
The Wilson Times has been through many changes in the 25 years I've been here. We've kept up with our industry as technology changed, but we've managed to maintain our hometown newspaper theme through all of those changes. I'm proud to have been part of that these last 25 years. Proud to tell our readers when babies were born, when someone was engaged, went to the prom, won a national recipe contest, was healed after a frightful illness, survived a storm, created a prize-winning piece of art, gave a piano recital, met someone famous, triumphed over adversity. Proud to be a journalist and a staff member at The Wilson Times.

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