Swan Song: Old Editor’s Final Words

Published 8:48 am Thursday, May 31, 2018

Now, Gentle Readers, for a few profound words as I close the door on our 33-year visit. Only … I’m not good at being profound. You know that.

You have endured my bellyaching. My parenting woes. My joys and sorrows. I’ve written you about weeds and politicians. You’ve traveled with me to Oklahoma, Virginia and California and Mt. LeConte … and to the cow pasture.

On Friday, I’m turning in the key to the office. I will yield this space and this time we’ve had together.

No longer will I wake up on Tuesday morning in a sweat about what I’m going to write about this week.

There are a few notable things about my tenure:

• We were never sued for libel. Credit for that goes to the careful and fair-minded editing of Mike Barnhardt.

• We always turned a profit. Even in the recession years, we took in more than we spent. We paid our bills on time. Readers and advertisers have supported us and recognized a newspaper’s vital role in a community.

• We didn’t gouge you. We charged, but we didn’t abuse. You got your 50 cents worth. The words of my first publisher Jim Hurley of the Salisbury Post guided me: “Make a living, not a killing.”

• I’ve misspelled a lot of words, especially in headlines. It’s not a secret that I’ve never been good at editing copy.

• My two teams stayed together. In Mocksville, Robin Snow, Barnhardt, Brian Pitts, Ray Tutterow and Beth Cassidy have toiled long and hard for the newspaper — and for you. She retired at 88, but Sara Campbell remains part of the heart of the Enterprise. In Clemmons, Chris Mackie, Christy Clark and Julie Mackie worked devotedly.

There were other employees over the years with their own considerable contributions. Once, a newspaper job was the most secure work in town. No longer. Trimming staff because of declining revenue and technology advances was the nasty part of this job.

Cleaning out my desk this week, I came upon two deep drawers of press awards from our glory days. The past decade has been devoted to survival, not journalism awards. No doubt, you have noticed. The glorious wonders of technology and the Internet have proven to be disguised death threats to newspapers. Among my peers, I’ve been regarded as a dinosaur — slow to embrace the clever social media devices that are now choking us. Newspapers are struggling to swim out of the riptides.

Will I miss you? Firmly, yes. This was a fun and rewarding job. I won’t miss playing Santa Claus for our annual Christmas advertising promotion. I grew to hate that, but we always netted a cool $5,000. I will miss the guys gathered outside the Cooleemee Post Office every Wednesday morning with two quarters squeezed between  their fingers to buy the newspaper. I won’t miss snowy, rainy, hot or bitter cold Wednesdays during delivery time. With one delivery to go, I have never hit a deer with my car, but I’ve seen many by the roadsides. I will miss being there when things happen — when news is made, when people celebrate their high achievements and weep over tragedies.

Thanks to you, I’ve been able to provide for my family and now retire. May God bless you. And may God continue to pour His blessings upon Davie County.

— Dwight.Sparks27006@gmail.com