The new year, 2017, will mark my 33rd full-time in community journalism.
That’s a lot of newspapers, a lot of good times, a lot of tough times, a lot of fun, a lot of interviews, a lot of deadline pressure, a lot of picture-taking, a few chewings, and thank goodness, some praises along the way, too.
As I embark on 2017, I have to say I’m happier than ever on my decision to go into community journalism. The challenges are perhaps greater than ever, but my former junior high and high school basketball coaches, L.E. Tyra and Freddie Burnett, taught me a long time ago to embrace challenges. They make you better.
In 2017, I will celebrate my 16th year as a resident of Holly Springs and Marshall County. That’s the second longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. It’s the longest my wife Pam, a preacher’s daughter, has ever lived anywhere.
When we moved here in 2001, things were sort of crazy in our lives and they got even crazier in that first year here (with our third child coming three months earlier than expected), plus owning two houses and renting a third. And it didn’t take long – thanks to the good people here – to feel right at home in our new home.
Those 16 years have flown by. It seems that the youngest child, Erin, has gone from premature birth to age 15 (come January 1) in the blink of an eye. She went to her first Christmas formal a couple of weeks ago, and it was very difficult for Dad. And Andy has graduated college and hit the working world, while Emma is just a few months away from receiving her master’s degree.
Where has the time gone?
Most of all, the rapid running of the years teaches me more and more how important it is to spend valuable with your family. And tell those the closest to you each day that you love them.
As the new year nears, I also want to add the importance of saying “thank you.”
I received several “thank yous” last week after our Christmas edition hit the streets. One even called it “one of our best papers ever,” and I really appreciate the compliment.
And just a week earlier I received a kind letter from a reader. Here’s a portion of it – “I just wanted to write you this note to tell you how much I enjoy getting The South Reporter.”
She particularly praised the sports section, from which she has clipped photos and articles in recent years to put into a scrapbook for her high school senior.
“I will continue to enjoy your paper and your column. May God continue to bless you and your family. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”
I tell my own children time and time again that people just don’t write enough anymore. And I tell them how nice it is to cheer someone up via the written word, on paper, and sent through the mail or even hand-delivered.
This was a fine example. On a day I needed a boost, this reader and kind lady gave me a big one.
So my goals as I enter year 2017 are pretty simple – continue to work together as a team with the dedicated South Reporter staff to produce a quality newspaper for a quality community, spend more quality time with family, and say “thank you” and “I love you” more often.
From the Burleson family to your family, Happy New Year!