It’s time; I am turning in my media badge and saying goodbye to my career in journalism. It’s been fun, it’s been frustrating and overall it has been incredibly rewarding.
Although I am leaving this path to pursue a new one, I will never leave behind the stories and people I have encountered along the way.
It’s a huge responsibility to be trusted to tell someone’s story. So often, I dwelled over what I wrote, and to be honest, I probably never thought it was good enough to be published.
In the last two and a half years, many people have opened their homes and offices for me to share their stories with the public. I have asked difficult questions. I have laughed with and shed tears with so many people in this community.
So many voices have had the courage to tell me things that they may have never told anyone else. So many stories have been written despite all of the bad ones that needed to be told as well.
I’ve covered the worst of the worst. I’ve been on the scene of fatal wrecks, a drowning, a plane crash and even watched as a cold blooded killer smirked at law enforcement in a courtroom…scenes that are now engrained in my memory forever.
But the good stories will always outweigh the tragic ones. I spent hours in the New London Museum talking to those who are keeping history alive. I wrote about the Concord Community school reunion, spending an entire Saturday with a group of people who welcomed me with open arms. I have told stories of retirements, trips to great places and stories of people with captivating, new ideas. I have even spent some time on football fields, basketball courts and softball fields (I love sports, but I probably couldn’t do that again.)
When you tell someone’s story, you’re invited in and within a few hours this stranger is now a friend. I have formed relationships with people inside, and outside, of the office that I can only hope will last a lifetime.
Those are just a few reasons why it is hard to leave behind a profession I have, without knowing it, worked toward since I was chosen to be on my high school’s newspaper at age 15. I do feel like I have come full circle. How many people can say they were a managing editor of a newspaper at age 23? This job has made me thick-skinned, even more compassionate and grateful for the opportunity to be a small part of so many lives.
I have truly treasured the notes, emails, in-person visits and flowers from readers who would take the time to tell me they liked a story bearing my byline or even the design of the newspaper. Those people are the ones who have kept me going. I have grown and learned more in this position than I ever thought possible.
With growth, comes change. It’s no secret that the newspaper industry has been forced to change, change, and change some more. I am not the first, or last, to say that some tough decisions have had to be made with these changes. You, the Henderson community, have seen them first hand…even if you may not fully understand them.
I am a firm believer that news is as important now as it was 50-plus years ago. I also recognize that not all are so willing to invest in the industry, especially at the small, community level. Contrary to popular belief, most journalists are trained professionals in truth telling, fact checking and considering all sides of a story. Journalism keeps those in power accountable. You’ve probably never really thought about it this way, but a journalist is the most powerful person in a room.
It’s a two-way relationship; without community support, we cannot tell the stories. All I ask in my departure is that this community support this newspaper and the staff that works so hard to publish it for you.
I’ve put in the good fight for The Henderson News. I definitely wasn’t in this position for monetary reward. I continued this job because ink runs through my veins. And like most of the retirees I interview say, “when you know, you know” and my heart says it’s time to let go of this chapter.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for caring. Thank you for making my short journalism career worthwhile.
See you at Lions Stadium in the fall and Go Bulldogs!
Ashton Griffin is managing editor of The Henderson News. Her email address is email@example.com.
© 2019, Henderson Newspapers Inc.