On climbing atop the masthead…

This is my first Sunday column since taking over the Managing Editor position, so I better make it count. I’ve been meaning to write a column for a couple weeks now, but have been unable to due to all the various mitigating factors that accompany such a transition.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the support I’ve received at the outset. In just the last couple weeks I’ve received numerous well-wishes and kind words of support. It’s heartening to know that people are cheering you on and wishing you the best, at the same time it also raises the bar. If so many others have expectations for you, how can you not put high expectations on yourself?

Fortunately, I’ve got a lot of great people around me to make me look a lot smarter than I actually am. From the front office back to the pressroom, we’ve got some fantastic staffers here at the Henderson Daily News. It’s a pleasure to work here.

A newspaper is only as good as the community it serves, and the Henderson-Rusk County area is a wonderful place to live and work. I know it well, I spent my formative years here. Most of my family and friends live here. So it’s important to me that their local paper of record give them the best possible coverage of all the news that’s fit to print.

My vision for this paper is that it be a resource for the old and young alike, that it cuts across every demographic in serving one purpose: telling our story.

We may be a laid-back rural network of small towns and communities, but there’s a lot going on here. There’s a lot of important and interesting things that occur here. For every crime story, civic event, or local feature that’s published, there’s bound to be things we’re missing out on.

That’s where you come in.

You see, I think of a local newspaper as a collaborative enterprise. Sure, our editorial staffers are charged with the news gathering process, but I think our readers have a vital role as well. We rely upon you to hold us accountable as much as we depend upon your patronage. My hope is that the people of Henderson and greater Rusk County view this newspaper as an advocate as much as a periodical, as a great narrative that they may participate in also.

Journalists are believed to be a part of the “fourth estate” which is just a fancy way of saying that we are separate from the other “estates of the realm” such as politicians, merchants, and the law. Ideally each “estate” is supposed to both check as well as aide the other. Whether or not we do so, I suppose, depends on the players taking part.

A few weeks ago I was speaking with a group of gifted and talented students from JoAnne Bagley and Sharon McQuiston’s fourth grade classes. The one thing I wanted to communicate to them is the same theme I’m trying to hammer down here, namely that I want to be a part of a paper that know that it is part of a community. I think that’s what we’ve got here.

The staff here are the Henderson Daily News is dug in, we’re here for the long haul. Our kids go to school here. We own houses and property here. We have a vested interest in having a strong community, a thriving economy, excellent educational opportunities, sound law enforcement, and a healthy quality of life.

I want this newspaper to play a role in ensuring all of these things. I want criminals to feel that Rusk County is hostile to their transgressions, and our populace is informed about the issues of the day. I want to celebrate the things that we do well, while never neglecting the areas we need improvement.

God willing, and with your help, we can do it together.

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