Well, this is a something that I didn’t expect to write for a long, long time, but sometimes life has other plans. While I have had plenty of ups and downs during my short time as a newspaper editor, this column is to inform that I am stepping down as editor of the paper. I have accepted another full time position and after careful consideration, my wife, family and I have all decided it was the right decision.
As I said, I have learned a lot as the editor of a newspaper – however short a time it has been. So, I think the most appropriate thing that I can do is share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned that I will take with me for the rest of my life:
1. It’s almost never worth sharing your opinion publicly.
It doesn’t matter what you say - you will get labeled the moment that your opinions are in the public and go against the ideas of others. This rule applies to social media, columns, letters to the editor or any kind of public forum. 99% of the time, I recommend keeping them to yourself. You’ll be glad that you did.
2. Civility goes further than hostility.
If there is anything wrong with the paper, the finger is often pointed at the editor. Though I had grown accustomed to disgruntled readers, writers and community members, I never understood the passive aggressive, or outright boorish demeanor by which they chose to criticize. More often than not, sending unaddressed letters, ranting emails or angry voicemails does little to address the issue of upset. Thoughtful, courteous conversation, however, often does the trick.
3. Don’t let mistakes be your undoing.
When you make a mistake in the newspaper, it will be there forever. That is a stark realization – especially if your mistake has upset someone. I’ve made my fair share of permanent mistakes as the editor of The Baldwin Bulletin, The Sun, and The Country Messenger, but I quickly learned that kicking yourself when you’re down does nothing to help. Do everything you can to resolve a mistake you’ve made, and move on.
4. Hard work + Accuracy = Success
Getting a newspaper out every week is a fickle thing. A lot goes into print every week and tons of detail to cover. Something as simple as a misspelled name or a misquoted interview could mean a mourning family’s incorrect obituary, or a legal dispute. But, as with anything else in life, a mixture of hard work and accuracy not only makes a quality paper, but is the recipe for success in any line of work as well.
5. We’re all human
I have had the pleasure of meeting great people from all walks of life in this job. I’ve met liberals, conservatives, politicians, environmentalists, writers, musicians, athletes and many more – the majority of whom have been some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I have agreed and disagreed with these people, but I had the valuable opportunity to report on their beliefs and lifestyles without bias. Through that, I have learned that our differences mean very, very little.
If I can leave you with just one suggestion, it would simply be to look past the surface of those you disagree with to find your commonalities with them. I hope in doing this that you would find a reverence for your fellow man in this age of divisiveness, and see that all of us are valuable and equal in every way that truly matters.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to pick up the paper during my time here!
- Matt Anderson