Most of my working life has been spent in journalism. I’ve worked in delightful newsrooms and, well, not so delightful ones.
Above all, I’ve learned newspapers that aspire to greatness – is there anything less worth pursuing? – require a team of people who respect and admire one another.
This job isn’t for everyone; it’s more akin to a calling. The pay is bad. The hours are bad. The work is hard. People get mad. The president says mean things about your profession.
That said, when everything clicks, when a newsroom functions as a unit and not as individuals thrown together, it’s great fun. Newspapering is meaningful work, and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.
I’m proud of the people I work with. They are more than colleagues, they’re friends.
Sports Editor Carey Phillips knows more about high school sports than anyone I’ve ever met. He knows the players by name. The only time he misses games is when he’s covering other games. He’s a solid newsman who can turn a story on deadline. He keeps me out of trouble. Carey corrects things I get wrong, and he tempers my more combative personality.
Tanner Hall is proving himself as an outstanding investigative and projects reporter. He’s thorough, meticulous and dedicated to accuracy. At deadline, I find myself prying stories out of his hands, because he never wants to quit trying to improve them.
Jason Farmer is Mr. Versatility. He takes care of our technology needs, helps designer Sherry Tilley concoct her beautiful layouts, writes breaking news, oversees social media and takes impressive photographs. We hope to add bells and whistles to our website. He’ll lead that initiative.
Now, for two additions.
Haley Smith was a Herald intern. She worked herself into a part-time position. Then, because we couldn’t bear to part with her, she started Monday as a full-time reporter.
Haley, who is from Morganton, this month graduated Magna Cum Laude from Western Carolina University’s Honors College with a bachelor’s degree in communication. She studied journalism and public relations and served as editor in chief of the online campus publication, The Western Carolina Journalist. She received WCU’s College of Arts and Sciences’ Dean’s Outstanding Scholar Award for 2016-17.
Smith also works as Jackson County’s election stringer for The Associated Press, and she is the immediate past president of the Society of Professional Journalists’ WCU chapter.
Jim Buchanan has joined the Herald as our special projects editor. (I’ll write more about that in the days ahead.)
We worked together for 10 years at the Asheville Citizen-Times, where he most recently served as editorial page editor.
He’s a homeboy, a native of Jackson County who attended Sylva-Webster High School and Western Carolina University. He is vice president of the Western North Carolina Historical Association. Jim was editor in chief of the Western Carolinian and Cashiers Crossroads Chronicle before his 29-year career in Asheville that included stints as a copy editor and columnist.
Jim has earned a number of honors, including numerous first place awards for columns and editorials from the N.C. Press Association, the Senator Sam Award for editorials from the Associated Press and the 2016 Pete Ivey Award for outstanding work in coverage of higher education issues in North and South Carolina from the College News Association of the Carolinas.
Folks, brace yourselves. Jackson County has got itself a crackerjack news team.
Quintin Ellison is the editor of The Sylva Herald.