In June, I passed my 10-year milestone. I started at the newspaper on June 23, 1999. I had been doing some freelance work prior to that; but, Scott Wesner convinced me that my life would be so much easier being editor than running my own business. He lied!
All in all, I would have to say that it's been a good ten years. But, it has also been a period of many changes.
I have now been through three Presidents (Clinton, Bush, Obama). I have also been through three county judges (Reardon, Goad, Bearden). When I turn to the City, it's a bit more complex (Schulze, Hemphill, Stockbridge, Allen, Scantlin, Hinckley). Over at the school, only three superintendents (Kerr, Keel, Underwood).
During this ten years, I have seen the biggest changes in the technology used at our office. When I started, we pasted up pages, then drove them to the press in Kerrville and waited while they were printed. We would drive them back to Mason, and in the middle of the night, we would insert the grocery store flyers and label all the papers.
Today, we perform all layout on the computer. The pages are then converted to digital format and sent via the internet to our press in Killeen. They print the paper, insert all the flyers, label the papers, and deliver them back to Mason early Wednesday morning, ready for distribution.
This system would have been impossible ten years ago when the only internet connection we had was a dial-up that was slow and unreliable. Now, we have high-speed wireless which allows us to move huge files quickly. The faster internet also allows us to share ads with other newspapers rather than having to wait for a hard-copy version to arrive in the mail.
We were already using digital photography when I started at the paper; but, we were almost the only ones in town to use this new technology. Now, just about everyone has a digital camera and can snap images of their event and get it to us to share with others. That has allowed us to get photos into the paper more quickly, and to have more photos to choose from for our readers.
In ten years, we've changed the size of the paper three times. That decision has been driven by the press we use and the availability of paper. The trend has been to narrower paper, and we have adjusted to meet those demands.
When we started, the paper cost 50 cents, and now it is 75 cents. At first, everyone was shocked at the increase, until the daily papers raised their prices to $1.00. Now, we look like quite a bargain.
The paper has been online almost since the beginning of my tenure. In the early years, there were limited photos, and we had to hunt for copy to fill up space. Now, we actually hold back some items from the website to conserve space.
And the things I cover? The names change; but, like most things in a small town, the matters stay the same. City, county, school. Births, deaths, weddings. Football, Roundup, graduation. That's the beauty of a small town, life is what we cover and all the other things just fill in the gaps.
I am honored that all of you have allowed me to come into your homes for this past decade. I still consider it a job that requires my utmost respect for your lives, while also requiring that I be as honest as I can in my coverage. Sometimes you will love me - sometimes, not so much.
I hope you'll continue to be part of my life for many more years.
It’s all just my opinion.