Today I’m thinking about a clay pig.
More than 16 years ago, I was the features editor of the Ledger-Enquirer and we were putting together a ToDo cover dedicated to the upcoming Country’s Midnight Run.
At the time, we had a health reporter, a faith reporter, a home and garden reporter, an arts reporter and an entertainment reporter – oh, and three designers and two staff artists.
And that was just the features section.
We were looking for a new way to preview the Midnight Run, during which participants run three miles along candle-lit streets to earn a sweet tea and a pulled pork sandwich.
So we had our junior staff artist, whom we called Art Boy, spend the better part of an entire week fashioning a pig from clay.
The pig was wearing jogging shoes, floppy socks and a t-shirt with a racing number pinned to it. He may or not have been wearing shorts.
We photographed the pig, put the image in a computer and added color. It was beautiful.
That was long ago, and I don’t have to tell you we don’t do those kinds of things anymore.
In 2018, the L-E staff is much smaller and so is the newspaper, especially on Monday and Tuesday.
That’s not news to you.
And we no longer write about everybody and everything. That’s not news to you either.
But here’s the deal: filling up a daily newspaper with stories about everybody and everything wasn’t working.
In today’s world, most people are getting their news and information online. Of course, we now have unlimited room in cyberspace, but we also have knowledge of exactly what content people are reading and watching; when they’re doing it; and on which devices.
Bottom line: an awful lot of people are reading us. Last month, for example, 1.1 million different people read 4.6 million pages of content on our website.
We continue to grow our audience because we’re writing the stories people want to read.
We know that our readers want breaking crime news, but they also want watchdog reporting that holds leaders and institutions accountable, as well as stories that help make a concrete difference in our community, explain how something directly affects their lives or the lives of their families, or use revelatory storytelling to help readers understand a societal issue in new ways.
The Ledger-Enquirer – and before it, the Ledger and the Enquirer – has always strived to produce journalism that’s essential to our community, and doing so is as important as it’s ever been.
We’re still doing that.
At this point, I’d like to let you know that my last day at the Ledger-Enquirer is June 29.
It’s going to be painful for me to walk out of here, but I want to say something about that.
These days when journalists walk out of a newsroom for the last time, they sometimes like to console themselves with the thought that perhaps, as they cross that threshold, journalism has just died. Maybe they go on social media and say the newspaper is now about clicks and not stories.
I disagree. Behind every click is a human being with a heart and mind – people just happen to read stories on different platforms than they did in 1953. I believe in the Ledger-Enquirer and most of all the reporters, videographers, editors and staff who fight everyday to get the stories that matter to people in the Chattahoochee Valley: Tony Adams, Scott Berson, Tim Chitwood, Kara Edgerson, Lauren Gorla, Mike Haskey, Jordan Hill, Marcia McAllister, Mark Rice, Robin Trimarchi, Chuck Williams, Ben Wright.
I love you guys. Keep up the good fight – the world needs you.
And to you, the readers, thanks for your loyalty, honesty and friendship.
It’s been a blast, and I wish you the best.