Nathan Key leaving News-Topic

Dec. 09, 2012 @ 08:15 AM

It’s always a jaw-dropping event when an organization loses a leader. It’s even more so when that person has been a stalwart of the community, a news gatherer and mentor to his staff during his tenure as the newsroom editor.

Nathan Key has resigned effective Dec. 15 to become assistant editor of The Layman, a print and online Presbyterian Lay Committee publication.

“I will miss the relationships more than anything else,” Key said of his upcoming departure after more than 17 years with the News-Topic. “I’ve met a lot of good people, built a lot of friendships in and outside the newsroom, and been able to tell the stories of what’s going on in this county for a long time.

“One of the hardest things about the decision to leave was sharing the news with co-workers who have supported me and earned my respect through their dedication to this newspaper as well as those people I’ve gotten to know through the years.”

Key’s dedication is evident in the thousands of stories he has written since he joined the paper July 5, 1995, as a sports writer. Key brought to the newsroom a lifelong relationship with newspapers. Even as a child growing up in Collettsville, Key would wait for the carrier to bring the paper at the end of the driveway just so he could read it.

While a communications major at Appalachian State University with a focus on journalism, Key worked as a stringer for the News-Topic. His passion was further enhanced in his first journalism class, taught by Dr. Sharon Pennell. The two forged a special bond as Pennell supported and encouraged his interest in journalism as a career.

“While in college, I decided I liked the aspect of writing,” Key said. “The notion of one day being someone who could write about sports, which was a passion, appealed to me.”

After graduating in 1994, Key began his career at the Watauga Democrat. One year later Paul Teague, another former long-time News-Topic employee and then sports editor, lured him to Caldwell County to become a sports writer. From 1998-2004, Key served as sports editor himself, and moved up to become managing editor in 2004. He became the editor in 2009.

As Key took on added responsibilities, his first passion remained writing. He said good writing is the key to delivering the news.

“I have always considered myself a writer first and foremost,” Key said. “I was fortunate enough to advance through the ranks over the years, and was able to handle the additional responsibilities that came with the job.

“As editor, it all boils down to writing. That is the area in which I think I have been the most effective, be it an event I covered, a person I met, or a column about issues that affect the daily lives of people in Caldwell County.”

Key’s work has yielded five North Carolina Press Association awards for column writing, editorials, sports columns and sports writing.

Despite shrinking newsrooms, the advent of online content and budgetary constraints, Key has worked hard to keep the paper focused on its No. 1 goal: Delivering local news.

“In an industry that has seen dramatic changes, we still brought people the news of Caldwell County,” Key said. “Even in times when we’ve been short-staffed, we’ve always tried to let people know what’s going on in their neighborhoods, and I expect that will continue into the future.”

News-Topic Publisher Terese Almquist said Key’s departure will be a loss for the newspaper.

“Losing Nathan is one of the most difficult personnel losses that I have experienced in my entire career, but I understand and support his decision,” said Almquist. “He will be missed by our staff, our readers and the community because he is such a sincere and dedicated individual, and an excellent community newspaper editor.”

Key is married to his wife Misty. The couple have a 5-year-old son, Landon.