Here at the Mountain Home News we keep multiple copies of each weeks paper in what we call the morgue. At the beginning of each month last years papers are thrown out, but not before our advertising representative, Peggy, and I both grab a copy from each week. We do it because certain things happen around here at the same time each year and it helps us remember to keep an eye out for them.
It also gives me the chance to remember the experiences I've had since becoming a part of the newspaper. Last month I got to fondly look back on my trip on a Flying Fortress. I'll never forget getting the privilege of riding on a restored B-17. Being able to crawl into the nose and look out through the glass bubble at the Treasure Valley laid out beneath me or the feeling of sticking my head out of the top turret of the open cabin are feelings that are still indescribable.
This month, when I pulled out the papers from last May, I had even more to reflect on. It will be a year on Saturday since I was offered the editor position here at the paper. I had been at the paper in the role of staff writer for eight months to-the-day, having started on Sept. 11, of all days. I had spent my morning working with first responders in a big combined training exercise. After working through the what if's of a big train derailment spilling noxious gas in Railroad Park on a Farmers Market Saturday I came back to the office and was sat down by Brenda to discuss the editor position. She began to tell me to go home and talk over taking the job with my husband, I cut her off and accepted the position immediately. Giddy with excitement, here I was less then a year into my dream career field and this was validation I was doing a good job.
It didn't take long before reality set in and I found myself a bit terrified. What had I gotten myself into, other then goofing off a bit over the previous couple of months, I had absolutely no experience paginating a paper, very minimal experience with our computer program Indesign and not much more experience with a Mac. Now I was going to have to use all of those things to put together the paper. Two papers technically.
I tried really hard to keep up a courageous front, confident in my abilities to pick everything up, smiling and excited, because I was all those things. But deep down I questioned myself everyday: would I be able to get the paper done efficiently so the pressroom and circulation wasn't waiting around, would I be able to put something together that didn't look like amateur hour, would the paper I put together be something people would want to pick up and read let alone purchase every week. I wasn't sure and it truly scared me.
When I was younger I had a really bad habit of not doing things that I worried I wouldn't be good at. I hated to make mistakes or feel like I had failed and truthfully it made me miss out on a lot of experiences growing up. It is something I have worked to overcome for years now, but taking this position made all of those old feelings come back. I would have been very nervous in this position at any paper, but this is the paper I grew up with. I have spent almost my entire life in this county. I was born here, raised here and most of my family still resides here. Not only would any mistake I made be public, but everyone I knew would see each and every growing pain as I transitioned into this new role.
Publicly, I was all smiles and confident, but inside I was a nervous wreck. My mind raced day and night, analyzing every move I made and prioritizing what I would do next. I've always set high goals for myself when it comes to work and school and I didn't want to let me down. I didn't want to let my family, friends or coworkers down and most of all I didn't want to let down this community or this historic paper.
I slept fitfully, especially on production nights, waking up with a start and in a panic that there was something I was supposed to be doing, something I was forgetting or just panicked that this was the week that everyone figured out I was a scam. That I wasn't editor material.
I'd never had these types of doubts when I became a reporter. That had always been my dream job and to me it felt just like college again ( I loved school and could have happily became a professional student). Listening to people talk, taking notes and then putting the information into written form was just like going to a lecture and taking a test. I loved it and I was confident in that position.
Slowly, I am gaining confidence in my new one and a lot of that is because of all of you.
As I went around town covering stories, I got nothing but encouragement and nice words from our readers. People have emailed, written letters and called me to congratulate me and encourage me as I’ve learned this new position.
Looking back at my first papers as the editor there was definitely room for improvement and of course there still is, but I have came a long ways. I can see it and I hope all of you can too.
I want to thank our community for all of the support I have been given this past year. So many changes happened here at our little weekly paper over the past few years and especially in this last year. For decades Kelly had been at the helm shaping our weekly news, now in the past few years you have been through three editors. Three editors who all had their own visions for the paper and did things differently.
Just in the past year we've completely changed the way we bring you your local news. We've changed formats and paper size as our press went dark and we began outsourcing the printing of our paper. Our color and printing capabilities are bigger and better then ever before as we went to more advanced technology, but our deadlines have had to become much stricter. We haven't been able to squeeze in the last minute stories the way we did before when Larry printed the paper for us each week. We can no longer hold an election night paper and pull an all nighter, but overall I think the changes have all been positive.
I hope this rambling about my first year is okay. Giving you my opinion each week is just something I am still not quite used to even though next week I will write my 52 editorial piece (wow). It’s not because I don’t have opinions. Trust me I am a very opinionated person. It’s just still kind of hard to believe that people want my weekly opinion. Brenda always tells me that my pen is a privilege, when things annoy me, she tells me to “use my pen.” It’s been a hard thing to get used to, but I am working on it.
I want to hear your opinions also. We don’t often get letters to the editors these days, but I would love to hear from you. If there is something in the community that makes you happy or annoys you let us know. In the same aspect if there is something here at the paper that you love or that you think we should be doing differently let us know. I enjoy constructive criticism almost as much as I do a compliment, as long it is not given in a rude way.
In closing I would like to just say thank you to my family for putting up with me being a mess at times this past year, thank you to my coworkers for helping guide me and for believing I could do this and thank you to our readers for your support through these learning curves.