On August 5 of last year, I walked out of the Mount Carmel Register doors for the “last” time.
Little did I know that exactly one year and three days later I would walk back into that newsroom full of even more appreciation of the community that is Wabash County.
I worked for the Register for about three months last summer while I was on summer break from Indiana University. In that time I covered anything and everything: city council, charity events, the 4-H fair and Ag Days.
But it wasn’t the events that made me love my job – it was the people.
I left excited to go back to IU to get my bachelor of arts in journalism, yet I knew everything I was leaving behind here.
Shortly after I returned to college, I got a call from Ed Eblen, a Korean War veteran, asking me to be a part of his Honor Flight experience. I gladly took his offer and got the chance to meet even more great folks from Mount Carmel.
Even though it was just a weekend trip, we made memories that would last a lifetime.
On Decemeber 19 I graduated with distinction in Bloomington, and moved to Mishawaka, Indiana. I got a job at the Elkhart Truth, a 14,700 - circulation daily newspaper in Elkhart, Indiana, where I designed eight to ten pages of the paper a day.
I was slightly miserable.
I missed writing. I missed getting to meet and know people on a personal level.
Don’t get me wrong, I worked with some of the most talented journalists I have ever met, but I wasn’t doing what I loved to do.
On May 1, the Elkhart Truth was sold by the Dille family to Paxton Media Group. Paxton assured everyone in the newsroom that they still had a job.
Two weeks later, I, and about 15 other folks, lost our jobs.
A copy editor who had been with the paper for over 30 years left the paper in tears. A community editor who was a beacon to the community was laid off.
I wasn’t crushed, because I didn’t enjoy the work I was doing to begin with, but I felt a sense of emptiness.
For four years, people have asked me “Why would you want a career in journalism? The newspaper industry is dying.” And I never believed them.
But on that day, I did.
As time went on I really thought about my life choice to be a writer. I even considered going back to school to be a certified teacher.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the industry isn’t dying. It’s changing.
What will never change, however, is good storytelling.
There will always be a need for people who are able to write with clarity, conciseness and accuracy. There will always be a need to share life’s common experiences.
There will always be a need for community journalism – the news that you need to know as a resident of that area.
Newspapers may not be the first draft of history anymore, but they remain the concrete proof that something happened and it mattered.
I was lucky to still be in contact with Phil Summers, who was gracious enough to give me my job back here in the community I fell in love with last year.
The small town hospitality you all have has welcomed me back with open arms.
And for that I am grateful.