A rare and fine opportunity

Published 10:15 pm Friday, September 3, 2010

As many of you already have surmised, we have been through some pretty important staff changes here at Suffolk Publications this week.

To recap, Tim Reeves, who served here for a little more than a year as editor, has resigned his position here to take the editor’s job at the Selma Times-Journal, one of the Alabama papers owned by our own parent company, Boone Newspaper Inc.

For Tim, it is something of a return home, as Alabama is his native state and the Times-Journal is a paper where he’s worked twice before. His posting as editor of the paper will be the highest level of employment he’s held there.

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During a sendoff dinner with Tim at Amici’s on Thursday, those of us who work in the newsroom at the Suffolk News-Herald recalled the experiences we’d shared with him during the past year or so. Despite the constant stress and long hours — and occasional hot tempers — in this business, it seems that we all really have enjoyed working together.

We all learned quite a bit from Tim. But nobody owes him more than me, because he took a man who thought he’d seen it all in the field of newspaper journalism and opened his eyes to just how much there is left to learn. And it all took place right here in my hometown.

Under Tim’s leadership, we have done more work than I ever would have thought possible. We’ve launched one magazine and set another into motion, improved our presence in social networking circles on the Internet, launched a new website, began a daily news email, published more news in less space and with an eye-catching design that makes great use of graphic elements and photos. He challenged each of us in the newsroom to work outside our comfort zones, while nurturing the talents we each brought to the business.

Under his guidance, the Suffolk News-Herald’s newsroom was a busy, noisy place where people were frequently and pleasantly surprised by their own achievements.

I hope I can stand well in those shoes.

Having been named to replace Tim as editor of Suffolk Publications’ newspaper, magazines and online products, I find myself in the rare and delightful position of leading the editorial efforts of my hometown newspaper. It is an honor that is normally reserved for people who own newspapers and their family members. For me to have this opportunity is something of a dream come true.

As a native of Suffolk, my approach will be a bit different than that of outsiders in similar positions. This is home, not a stepping stone. This is my hometown paper, not a launch pad for the next level of my career.

My approach to news coverage and opinion will be as an honest and longtime member of the community, not that of someone without any institutional knowledge or with a point to prove to the natives. We may disagree on things, but you should always know that my love for the field of journalism is rivaled by my love for the city of Suffolk. Both will play a part in how I do my job as editor.

With the help of a fine team of writers and designers, I hope to be able to continue to meet the high standards that Tim set during the past year or so. Stop in and say hello sometime, if you haven’t already. I’d like to think we’ll be together for a long time.