Heading through another open door

Dec. 16, 2012 @ 08:44 AM

It’s been said all good things must come to an end. So it is for me and my tenure with the News-Topic.

After being a part of this newsroom for nearly 18 years, I am stepping away to begin a new chapter in my life.

Today’s edition of the paper is the last I will oversee as editor, a position I’ve had nearly four years. I’ll be leaving to become the assistant editor of The Layman, thus concluding work in three decades for my hometown paper.

I grew up reading the News-Topic, racing to the paper box each afternoon to see what was in it. It was an honor for me, a young and aspiring journalist, to have the chance to come home from Boone and work for the paper I grew up reading from the time I could understand sentence structure.

At that time I was doing exactly what I wanted to do: writing about sports, always a passion of mine. It was a job my wife often said was tailor made for me.

Little did I know that I would rise through the ranks and reach the position I’ve held for nearly four years, but God certainly blessed me.

Through the years I’ve gotten to know some wonderful people in this line of work. Many of them were coaches and athletes when I first started. Then they became firefighters, law enforcement officers and government officials. And then there’s all of you, the many readers of this newspaper. Some of you have even been the subjects of stories I’ve written or made assignments for through the years.

Writing has been my passion; it’s been a way of communicating with the community. My new duties with The Layman will allow me to do the same thing, but the target audience will be different, as will the subject matter.

I wouldn’t be totally honest if I said I wasn’t going to miss the News-Topic. You can’t come to a place five or six days a week for nearly 18 years and not become attached to it. That certainly has been the case for me. Telling Publisher Terese Almquist of my decision to leave the paper was one of the toughest I’ve made in my lifetime. It didn’t get any easier when I had to break the news to the newsroom staff and others at the paper who have been like family to me all these years. Leaving them is tough. I hope they know how much they have meant to me all these years.

I’ve been fortunate to have tremendous support and encouragement at the News-Topic from the likes of Terese, Deborah Murray and Edward Terry since I moved from sports to news more than eight years ago. And I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside some very dedicated individuals in our newsroom and the paper as a whole all that time. They’ve been like brothers and sisters to me in many ways, sharing the highs and lows, both in our business and personal lives. We’re a family, and even though one of us is leaving, nothing will change that.

And then there’s all of you, the many readers who pick up this newspaper each day to find out what’s going on in your neighborhood. More than anything else we’ve tried to highlight the news in our communities – good and bad – giving you a place to find what’s important to you from your own back yards. I know we’ve covered a lot, and there are some who will say maybe we should have covered more, but that’s human nature I suppose. You can’t please all of the people all of the time, no matter how hard you try.

Quite frankly, many readers don’t know the challenges we face on a daily basis in this line of work, and, honestly, many would not understand if I explained them until I was blue in the face.

But make no mistake about it, there are plenty of loyal and devoted readers out there who seek this paper every day. For your dedication to me and this enterprise, I say thank you. I appreciate your loyalty and the many kind words so many of you have passed along through the years. I take those notes, cards, letters and comments as I move on, knowing that those far outweigh the negative remarks and biting comments of others not always happy about what was in or maybe not in the paper.

It’s been a great ride doing something I love to do, and I have many lasting memories. But there have been too many long days and seemingly endless nights that have kept me away from a supportive wife and a wonderful 5-year-old son, two of God’s greatest gifts in my life. I’ve had to sacrifice too much time away from home and them. They should have the husband and dad they deserve, and long hours in the newspaper industry have not afforded me the chance to be what I should for them.

So, you ask why I’m leaving the paper, and I’ll give you three reasons. Misty, Landon and a sincere feeling that this is God’s path for me. He has repeatedly opened doors in my life, and there’s no doubt He has done it again.

Am I frightened about what the future holds? I think anyone embarking on a new path would be, and I enter into this new endeavor cautiously as I get my feet under me in a new capacity. At the same time I’m reminded of a passage of scripture from Jeremiah 29:11, a familiar verse that has played out over and over in my life.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

That lets me know everything will be OK – for me, my new job and the one I’m leaving behind.

With that, I shut off my computer and head through yet another door the Lord has opened for me.

May God bless each of you.

  Nathan Key is the former editor of the News-Topic. He leaves the newspaper after nearly 18 years to become the assistant editor of The Layman, headquartered in Lenoir.