I’ve been part of the newspaper business since I was 20 years old. It’s been nearly 12 years of getting to know the people in public offices and writing more and more about the students and families that make up East Alabama.
I grew up in Phenix City and Smiths Station. Smiths Station High School is my alma mater. I spent a little bit of time away in Tuscaloosa, but I love being in a place where most everyone knows who you are.
I’ve been easily accessible to anyone who wants to share a story in the newspaper. I’ve covered countless ribbon cuttings, talked to sweet ladies as they share recipes and stories of first loves, and spent more time in the area schools photographing and talking to kids about their favorite part of the school day. I’ve been to community concerts (with some pretty big names), attended more meetings and sit on committees and boards to make this a better place because I work at the newspaper.
I’ve made it a point to put as many kids in the paper each edition as we can get because parents love to see their kids in the newspaper. Sure it’s fine to see them online in a slide show, but I’ve learned that there’s something about being able to cut your kid’s photo out of the paper that people love because you can save it in a scrapbook.
When a tornado struck the Crawford community a few years ago, it devastated an entire area. My coworkers and I were responsible for covering it. Why? Because telling people and showing them what had happened brought everyone together to help. We talked to homeowners and cried with them because everything they had was lost. We talked to pastors whose churches were centers for food and clothing. We photographed way too many stuffed animals in the dirt and people looking over the rubble.
I’ve never wondered why I love this job so much. I already know the answer. Telling people’s stories is my passion. Uniting a community through news is what I want to do. All the things in our newspaper are important to someone. And other things are used to inspire the rest of us.
This week is National Newspaper Week, and while there are no donuts or balloons involved in our celebration (maybe next year), it is a time when we can remind you and even ourselves why journalism is important and why we love it so much. You’ll see a few pieces written by a few other journalists throughout the pages of the newspaper this week. I hope you’ll take a second and read them. And I hope that you’ll take a moment and see why professional journalism is so important – especially in our community.
With technology, it seems like almost anyone can be a reporter these days. While it may be true that you can “report” that something happened, it’s our job to find out the facts and why. We want to make sure you not only know when an event happened, but also the next steps – if there are any.
It’s my hope that you love our community as much as the staff at The Citizen does, and that you’re involved somehow in making it a better place. Please continue sending us your photos and news events that we can post throughout the pages and online. We want to hear from you anytime.
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