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The French (who have a different word for almost everything, as the comedian Steve Martin almost observed) say that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
This once, they’re right.
This is the final day “we” will write in this space, a sometimes happy, sometimes onerous task undertaken countless times over the past 19 years, 11 as editor.
It’s an admirable policy — a good one, and a disappearing one — for a small-town newspaper to commit to publishing a local editorial every single day. But that’s what you get when you have a family with printer’s ink for blood:?A determination that whatever the best thing would be for this community, that is what this community’s newspaper will attempt.
Still and all, with more than 300 issues each year, that’s a lot of literary jawboning. Such quantity necessitates some seat-of-the-pants writing, yielding the occasional endorsement of things like motherhood (hey! You got a problem with that?). We have here, on occasion, suggested that chocolate was a good thing. (It is, though potatoes are better.) Sometimes, we get to write about paraskevidekatriaphobia, and regret we’ll miss the next opportunity for that, only two weeks hence.
But that’s not all.
We’ve taken scofflaw public bodies to task, mostly about unwarranted secrecy, and praised children for doing their best even though they know they aren’t “The Best” in a given venue. We’ve celebrated Kayhi basketball triumphs and debate sweeps. We’ve written silly ditties about the weather, into which we have put more research time than might be apparent from the product or appreciated by those who must pay the bills. We’ve asked people to just get along, a la Rodney King, and have suggested ways that particularly contentious negotiations might be handled to everyone’s satisfaction.
We’ve remembered people we love, as a community and as individuals, whose passing we deeply mourn. We miss them still, as you do, but, as Ketchikan always has, we smile, dig in, and go on zestfully.
We’ve celebrated births in floatplanes (“air born” — the hospital was a little farther, the baby’s coming a little sooner, than anticipated) and talked about our shared hopes and dreams. We’ve realized repeatedly that this corner of the banana belt is prickly yet indescribably kind.
We have gotten to do all of that, and we’ve called it “work.”
More than 40 years ago, when finishing our first week as a full-time daily newspaper reporter, we marveled at how much fun it was. That early ‘70s editor replied, “If it stops being fun, it’s time to quit.”
It hasn’t stopped being fun. And though “we” are leaving, this newspaper won’t quit.
This space, filled with the opinions, failings and aspirations of a community, isn’t really what this operation is all about. It’s mostly about all those other pages. It’s not about us, but about you.
The newsroom here is filled with some of the brightest people, not only from journalism schools, but from life. When you walk through our door at the top of those stairs (turn right to find us), you meet a mix of younger/older/degreed/experienced/brand-spanking-new reporters and photographers and editors.
They know, because they listen to you and watch you and pay attention, that what we tell here are your stories, not theirs.
We make a deal when they first walk into that newsroom: We will tell your stories faithfully so that, taken all together, this newspaper will tell anyone who picks it up a bit of what it is like to live in this place, on this day, in this time. You will tell us when we get it right and when we get it wrong and, together, we will tell our story.
Now, no matter who is in this space praising motherhood, know this: Being a mirror for Ketchikan, that commitment to doing it well and right — that won’t change. It’s our privilege.
What fun! Lucky “us.”
— Terry Miller, Managing Editor