A Weekly Column
by Mary K. King
I sat down two months ago to start writing this column. I knew that I had to take my time and complete my thoughts in a way that would do this publication justice. As you probably noted from our front-page story this week, this is our last issue.
The decision to close our business was not made lightly. In fact, if we’re being honest here, this paper has been teetering on the edge of closure since before we took over in 2012. In the days of declining readership in the printed product, we remained optimistic. And that optimism is what carried us through the last several years. Unfortunately, optimism doesn’t pay the bills.
However, my time here at the paper wasn’t as doom and gloom as this last year has seemed. In my column over the years, I have talked (endlessly) about how much I love my job. It is true; I loved this job. For me, it never seemed like work. Going into the office every day was not a chore, it was a privilege.
I have met some pretty extraordinary people in this seemingly ordinary community. Some I will forever call my friends, and for that I am truly grateful. I have written stories about those people who became like family to me. I have covered some tragedies and have taken photos with tears streaming down my cheeks. But, I have also smiled proudly as I wrote about the kids in town or about our local veterans.
When my family took over the Advocate in 2012, I remember Andrea Wood explaining to me that she never felt the newspaper was “hers,” rather she was just a steward for a time. That’s really how it felt. This paper was Jim Turnbaugh’s, and I was incredibly lucky to have had a part in it for a little while.
Over the last few weeks, we slowly began to let people know about our closure. Everyone has been kind and understanding, and I thank each of them for their thoughts and well wishes. I was most nervous about telling Annette Turnbaugh. I wanted to tell her myself, rather than have her hear it from someone else, as gossip can tend to travel quickly sometimes.
Last Wednesday morning, Annette strolled into my office. She knew something was up when I asked her to stop by and see me, and after just one other guess (no, I’m not pregnant!), she knew what I was going to say before I said it. I explained to her that while I was incredibly sad and heartbroken to let the paper go, this community just no longer supports it like it used to.
Annette, more than anyone else, understood. She has been there, and she remembers convincing her mom, Aggie, to let the paper go years ago.
“I’m proud of the work you did here,” she told me. “But, most of all, Jim and Aggie are proud of you, too.”
Honestly, that’s all I could have asked for. I’m proud of the stories that will forever be a part of me, and those which I barely recall. I’m proud of the relationships I have built. I’m proud of all that we did here, big or small, whether it made an impact or not.
While leaving is hard, and saying goodbye is even tougher, I’m looking forward to a new beginning. I’m not quite sure yet what my next steps will be in my career, but I’m excited about the chance to put the talents I have acquired at the paper to use somewhere different. It’s been over a decade since I’ve been able to take a vacation where I didn’t have to at least check my emails while away…I’m looking forward to a little down time.
I wish things were different. I wish that we could have made this paper successful and made this business what I envisioned it being all those years ago. Something different was in the cards for us all along, though.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for allowing me into your lives each week. Thank you to those who have supported the Advocate for decades. Thank you to our loyal advertisers, some who would even pay their bills before I even sent them. Thank you to the people who have shared their stories with me. Thank you to everyone who believed in this little paper. For all of this, I am thankful.
Putting this last issue to bed today hasn’t been easy. I’ve done a lot of my work and my writing over the last several weeks through tears, but with a grateful heart.
For the better part of my adulthood, I have lived my life by my deadline. Next week, I won’t have to. It’s going to be so strange, for sure.
I have cleaned out my office and will hold onto many treasured memories. I hate that I’m the one who sits at this desk last, but it is time to put the Advocate to bed. I hope she sleeps well.
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