In late October 1998, I sat across from the same desk I’m now sitting behind, back when Bob Serra was editor. I had applied for the sports editor position earlier that week and, being up against two journalism grads from the U of O, I didn’t hold out much hope.
No journalism background. No degree of any kind, just a high school diploma.
I’d spent the last 10 years as a corporate chef coordinating restaurant openings throughout the Deep South for Morrison, Inc.
However, I’d been writing most of my life and had a few things published in magazines.
Maybe it was my youthful optimism; maybe it was my writing samples; maybe it was sheer pity.
Whatever the reason, Bob offered me the job and I quickly accepted.
That moment changed my life and launched 18 years as the Siuslaw News sports editor.
In the nearly two decades that followed, I often found myself standing out on a sunlit field or listening to the roar of the hometown crowds at Siuslaw and Mapleton high schools, unable to believe my good fortune doing what I did for a living: chronicling the games and careers of our local student athletes, coaches and their families.
People welcomed me into their lives in a special way that continues today when I see an athlete — now grown and with their own family — sitting in the stands watching their young Viking or Sailor competing on the field, basketball court or around the track.
When I became editor in 2016 and found myself sitting behind the desk I once sat across from during that 1998 job interview, I understood the responsibility and obligation to the community that came with it. On the surface, a newspaper is a time capsule chronicling life in our community — informing those of today and offering its history for those tomorrow.
But it’s more than that.
A newspaper is also a member of the community it serves, contributing what it can to its neighbors and the community conversation in the same way we each do as individuals.
Over the past five years, those conversations haven’t all been pleasant ones as the changing dynamics of our world, society and community have challenged us — as individuals and, ultimately, as a newspaper.
Yet, one of the most rewarding aspects of being editor has been the conversations with people who have different opinions. That’s because, ultimately, it’s not about changing someone’s position; its about understanding their position — particularly when it is different from your own.
As I approach my last day here on May 31, I’ve had ample time to reflect on what this career has meant to me — and it really comes down to one simple word:
Whether an athlete or coach from my early days as a sports reporter, or a community member who agrees or disagrees with some (or all) of my decisions as editor, I deeply appreciate each of you for the experience and opportunity to serve as a member of your local newspaper.
And while I certainly look old enough to retire thanks to all this grey hair, I’m still some years away from that and will instead be working part time delivering your mail for our local post office.
So, while I may no longer be working at the newspaper, I can still be a part of getting it to you — and serving our community in a different way.
Thank you all for the last 23 years ...