Well, it’s been fun.
Not really. It’s been a lot of hard work, late nights, cups of coffee and long drives. But after three years of oversight of the Westmoreland News, Northumberland Echo and Northern Neck News, I will be leaving for the Herald-Progress in Ashland, another strong community newspaper owned by Lakeway Publishers.
My time as editor here in Warsaw has been fruitful. Our newspaper and associated website looks and reads much differently than it did before I came. We’ve garnered multiple awards for our news coverage online and in print and I’m happy to say that I’m leaving behind a great staff that will no doubt continue in that tradition.
Dianne Saison, formerly the staff writer for the Northern Neck News, will take over as editor of that paper and the Echo effective next week. I hired her as a freelance writer in early 2010 and she has learned the ropes and earned first place awards from the state’s press association in almost every facet of news writing. Nicholas Vandeloecht, who has been working for us as a correspondent the past few months, will be stepping in as our next staff writer. I know the folks at Food Lion will miss him.
The transition is one that’s weighed heavily on me. A lot goes into editing a newspaper and I’ve put in a lot of elbowgrease to turn out two (sometimes three) newspapers a week. It’s been a fairly wild ride at points (putting out a paper with a generator and one lamp during Hurricane Irene comes to mind) but I’m grateful for the experience and for your continued readership. My tires are grateful for a shorter commute.
I’m also grateful for the change that I’ve noticed, especially in the Richmond County and Warsaw communities. My first government meeting here in late 2009 was a fairly lonely event. In addition to me, there might have been two or three others in attendance. Today, citizens are more engaged in the process and are hopefully more informed as a result. This is democracy and it’s nice to see it play out.
Editors come and go. It’s a stressful job that, if you let it, never stops. But the job is no less important today than it was when this paper was founded in 1879. Small communities still need their local papers and we’re not going anywhere. Neither is our commitment to providing quality, local journalism as we have done for 133 years.