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In case you didn’t get the memo (see page 1A this week or read the story by clicking here) I feel obligated to inform you that the Manchester Times won a few awards last week. OK I’m being modest – we won a truckload of stuff.
In what I can only assume was a clerical error, we won enough awards to take home the General Excellence Award (for the first time in our newspaper’s history, by the way). In clerical error number two, I was named funniest columnist ever. Actually, I won first (and second) place in the best personal humor column category but I like the way that first one sounds. That doesn’t add any pressure for this week’s column at all. I can feel you waiting on some sort of a punch line.
As the Manchester Times was called to receive our plaque for the General Excellence Award, I only assumed I should make a speech. Fortunately for those in attendance they wouldn’t give me even a few seconds at the microphone. But it did give me time to think about what I would say. I think it would go something like this:
“First of all, I have to say thank you to former Times publisher Chuck Cunningham. Had he done his research I would have never been hired at the Times. Fortunately for me, his willingness to give a sports-writing position to someone with no newspaper experience at all has led to where we are today.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize everyone who said I was the worst editor ever. The same critics who have deemed me unqualified and would like to ride me on a rail out of town because I don’t share their political views or kiss their feet have been not only good motivation, but quality entertainment for me. Without those guys and gals I wouldn’t have much to laugh about. Maybe they will come teach me how to do my job one day. I sure could use their tutelage.
“But in all seriousness, I do have people in my life who deserve recognition. What a shocker, I know. The crazy editor does have a family. The way some people talk to me you would think I am a malfunctioning computer.
“Holly, my fiancé , is first and foremost. She has put up with a lot from me over the years. She has dealt with late night phone calls about news, late hours and some bad moods when my stress level hits the roof. Without her it simply isn’t possible to do this job. Behind any good editor is one of two things – a lot of alcohol or a good woman. Fortunately, my relationship with the latter is what keeps me going.
“My parents, and my whole family for that matter, have been nothing but supportive in what I do and without them I wouldn’t work here. My mom encouraged me to apply back in 2005 and the support from them is amazing. My grandparents are always reading the paper and my Mema is undoubtedly my number one fan. She listens to my radio show and reads the paper cover to cover every week. I could have a typo on the front page and she would go to the mat for me blaming someone else.
“The readers of the Manchester Times make it all happen. I have made at least one mistake before. That’s a safe assumption. I suppose I’ve made way more. But I strive each time I start up an article – whether it is an editorial, a hard-hitting news story, investigative piece or a recap of a school board meeting – to make it the best thing ever put on paper. Obviously that isn’t always the case. It probably isn’t the case most of the time. But it’s my goal. I want everything to be perfect and that’s for you and for me. If my name is going to be on it then it will be done right. You can be sure of that. And if you are going to pay your 75 cents I want it to be worth your time and money. It really brings a sense of pride to carry on the 133-year-old news tradition that is the Manchester Times. There have been editor’s before me who were likely much better at the job than me, and I want to make them proud. I want to ensure the Manchester Times is the go-to news source in Manchester 133 years from now the same way it is today.
“Last but not least I have to thank the staff at the Manchester Times . The editorial staff I work with and the staff across the board is by far the best I’ve ever worked with. Everyone shares my desire to put together the best product each week. So many people work behind the scenes for this finished product every week from advertising to production to editorial, it’s really a miracle that we put out what we do. I am blessed beyond belief. Thank you all.”
Maybe I should stay away from speech writing.
-Josh Peterson is the editor of the Manchester Times . He has won TPA awards for his writing and photography. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 931-728-7577 ext. 105. Follow him on Twitter @joshpeterson29