Ah, the stories I’ve gotten to tell

A major frustration for any newsroom is when local civic or business leaders make an announcement to their group or their employees, but won’t confirm it for the newspaper because they don’t want it to be public.

It’s hard – and sometimes impossible – to convince them that in this day and age, nothing can really be kept secret for more than a minute.

And, if only part of the information gets out, it may or may not be correct – which means the rumor machine cranks up.

To that end, in practicing what I’ve been preaching for years, let me make this announcement.

I am leaving The Messenger.

I only meant to stay a year or two, and it’s been more than 26 years. I don’t know what that says about my planning abilities and motivation, but let’s just ignore those.

I started as a lifestyle reporter, spent time as a business reporter, farm reporter and back-up court reporter. I was promoted into management in 1999 and have served as the managing editor of The Messenger and some of its specialty publications since 2006.

My newspaper career began in high school when my best friend talked me into enrolling in the journalism class, where we were allowed to write for the school and sports pages in the local twice-weekly paper. I ended up working full-time at those papers for more than seven years. I was also the editor and office manager of a weekly paper back in southern Iowa. I took a break from journalism for a few years and was redirected to The Messenger – although I wasn’t sure if I could cut it at a daily paper.

The goal was never to be an editor. What I wanted to do was write.

And write, I have.

I still remember some of the stories I did in my first year as a lifestyle reporter. I’ve met some amazing people whose stories I got to tell.

It’s always been about other people’s stories. I think that’s true for the old die-hard journalists. We don’t want our faces splashed across the printed page, we don’t want our accomplishments touted.

We want to right the wrongs, keep in line those who would abuse their power, give people information they need to make the best choices in their lives and most of all, tell stories.

Journalism has changed greatly in the years that I’ve been a part of its community. It has become increasingly apparent that I am no longer a good fit for what journalism is becoming. So, it’s time to step aside.

I would like to thank everyone who helped make this an incredible journey. Many of you probably don’t even know how much you influenced me when you shared your stories. Some of you do, and I will miss you desperately.

There are stories I want to write while I still have a platform, and I will be staying around for a while to help with the transition.

When I finally leave, it won’t be with a bang. Before too long, my name just won’t appear anywhere in the paper, and I will be off to the next phase of life.

I have no idea what I’m going to do next. But, as I often told others, you never know what’s up ahead. The greatest possibility may be just around the corner. So, with absolutely no road map to guide me, I’m looking forward to the adventure.

Barbara Wallace Hughes is the managing editor of The Messenger.


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