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FROM THE PUBLISHER’S DESK: 10 years of newspaper

Posted on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at 9:06 am

It has been 10 years since I walked in the front door of the Manchester Times wide-eyed and excited, yet clueless that the next 10 days were going to have a big influence on the next 10 years of my life.

The sports department at the Times (and by “department,” I mean one-man job) was searching for someone to cover sports in the area. Knowing nothing about newspaper, crafting articles or digital photography, I decided that I must apply for this job. With that decorated resume I was certain to get a call, right?

I’ve yet to figure out why they actually hired me, but I’ve narrowed it down to a couple of factors that most likely led to my hiring, in no particular order – sheer luck or fate. Although I think a clerical error could be the most likely culprit. It certainly wasn’t a personnel moved based on my merit.

When I meandered in, the former publisher showed me where I would sit, a dingy corner with a metal shelf so close to the back of my seat that I couldn’t push away from my desk without adding a new rip to the aged leather chair. Perhaps this was hazing in the modern workplace? He told me that he would need me to “throw together” a basketball preview for the next week’s paper.

By the time I could process his request and turn around to get more information, he had ducked into his office and was gone.

Nine days later my basketball preview was in the paper. I was proud and exhausted; downtrodden after a week of 16-hour days, trying to conduct interviews, take team photos … oh, and learn how to write for newspaper. I was proud. I look back on that section now and I am mortified.

How did I keep my job after publishing that? Again – luck, fate or, most likely, a serious clerical error.
But somehow I did keep my job. I later learned that my former publisher would never order me any business cards, despite my constant pleading, because he “didn’t think I’d be around very long.” And this was after a few more years and my promotion to a full-time employee. What a real confidence booster.
That is in the past, though. Now I have plenty of business cards – and his office.

Over the past 10 years I’ve learned plenty about our community and about the newspaper business. Now, as I enter my 11th year at the paper, and my first full fiscal year as the publisher, I can tell you with confidence that I’m just as wide-eyed and excited now as I was 10 years ago (and at least a little more knowledgeable).

I’ve been fortunate to record the history and news of our town for the past 10 years. Thank you for your readership and support. I am truly humbled. I look forward to another 10 years with you – albeit in a different role now, as a publisher and overseer of all operations and not just the news department (where all the fun is).

Thanks for reading, and giving me a job worth being wide-eyed and excited for. It is fun for me, but we do it for you, as record-keepers and guardians for generations to come.

-Josh Peterson is the publisher of the Manchester Times. He is a Tennessee Press Association award-winning writer and photographer. His column, “From the publisher’s desk” won TPA first-place honors for best personal humor column. He can be reached by email or by telephone at 931-728-7577 ext. 105. Follow him on Twitter @joshpeterson29