When I first arrived at the Oxford Leader on May 10, 1999, I never expected to stay.
I had just graduated from the University of Michigan and this was my first job as a professional journalist. I thought I’d stay here for a couple years, add a few lines to the old resume, then move on to another newspaper.
But, something happened – life and love. I fell in love with the community. I fell in love with a woman. I fell in love with living in a small town. I fell in love with community journalism, which gives you the opportunity to write about and photograph a little bit of everything.
Because of all this, an anticipated two-year stay turned into 20½ years.
But all good things must come to an end.
This is my last issue as editor of the Leader. I’ve accepted a position with Oxford Township and will soon begin work as the new communications and grants manager.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make. I’ve worked here for nearly half of my life. It’s hard for me to imagine working anywhere else or doing anything else, but sometimes you need to make a change and take a chance.
I’m going to miss covering Oxford. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed righting wrongs, exposing corruption, giving a voice to the voiceless, promoting local charities, celebrating milestones, helping others and producing stories and photos that live on in scrapbooks and on refrigerators.
The people I’ve interviewed and the stories I’ve written have touched my heart and helped make me the person I am today. I’ve learned to be more understanding, more compassionate, more kind, more patient and more willing to change my views and compromise. This job has helped me grow and for that, I’m thankful.
That being said, I won’t miss having to meet a weekly deadline. I won’t miss starting from scratch every Wednesday morning. Unless they’ve actually done it with their own two hands, most people have absolutely no idea what a grind it is producing a weekly newspaper with a two-person staff.
On the one hand, it is immensely gratifying to have complete control of your product from start to finish. Writing articles and headlines, taking photos and laying out and editing the paper gives you a unique sense of pride and ownership. There’s nothing better than flipping through those finished pages and thinking to yourself, “I did this.”
On the other hand, it’s exhausting doing all that work week after week after week. There’s no such thing as an easy week in this business. Some weeks, there’s so much going on, it’s hard to cover it all and fit it all in. Other weeks, it’s so slow, you’re scrambling to find things to write about and worried if you’ll have enough. Those pages don’t fill themselves.
Looking back over my two decades in journalism, I’m quite pleased that nothing, be it illnesses, ice storms, computer failures or staff shortages, has stopped me from putting out a newspaper every single week.
Looking ahead, I’m anxious to continue serving the community I love in a new way as part of the township government. I’m ready to use my skills, my knowledge and my experience to promote the community, keep its citizenry informed and hopefully, bring in some grant money to get the things Oxford needs and wants.
I’m saying goodbye to the Oxford Leader, but not to Oxford. I’ll still be around. My job is changing, but my commitment and my passion to helping others and improving this town will remain the same.