It is the season for being thankful. And I contend that just because I have my Christmas tree up at home and at the office – I am still allowed to be thankful.
I am thankful for many things. But, generally around this time of year I become nostalgic about my time here with you – at the Manchester Times.
It was 12 years ago when I meandered into the front door of the Manchester Times office – a 19-year old kid looking for a job.
No way I should have been hired (part-time sports at the time). I don’t know if it was a clerical error or a miracle, but someone called and gave me a job. I knew it was a mistake, but I wasn’t about to talk them out of their decision.
Fast forward 12 years and I’m still waiting for someone important to walk in my office and tell me that I’ve been discovered – that they have figured out that I’m a fraud.
A story I love to tell: the publisher at the time never ordered my business cards because he had so little confidence that I would make it.
Seriously, in my time here I have been fortunate to meet some great people, have the support of many of them and, hopefully, the respect of the others.
I’ve also met some, well, let’s say passionate people (passionate is code for crazy. But it sounds nicer. It is equivalent to saying “bless your heart” to someone who is stupid.). Like the one lady (an educator who shall remain unnamed) who sent a strongly worded email, berating my character, integrity and intelligence when a story she wants published “didn’t run.” The only problem with her argument was the story did publish – on the front page, above the fold.
Then there was the fella’ charged with a crime who decided to drive his car in my general direction, at a high speed only to slam the brakes as he neared. He said I was “walking in the road.” Right.
And how could I forget the passionate lady who was going to sue me and the newspaper because she was busted for running a pill operation out of her house and wanted to blame the newspaper for publishing her name. Fake news, right?
Cynical jokes aside, I consider myself fortunate to work in this role and guard the shop of a 138-year old establishment such as this one. It is humbling to be trusted with such a responsibility and to serve in a job where we truly serve the community by disseminating information that would otherwise be untold.
I have no suitable words for the gratitude I feel for our readers. Whether it is someone who turns to my column religiously or someone who hates what I have to say but enjoys other sections of the paper – none of it is possible without you. You are the people who invest in knowledge and community journalism by picking up the newspaper every week.
Then there is my wife, Holly. Everyone gives the token “thanks to my wife/husband” when giving a speech. This is no token. Without her behind the scenes, I can honestly say I would be locked away in a looney bin somewhere. She keeps life in perspective and protects my sanity.
I’m certainly thankful for Holly, the readers and, yes, even the passionate crazies. I look forward to another 12 years.
–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 and best personal column. The National Newspaper Association named him “Top 30 Under 30” of newspaper professionals in 2016. He can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 931-728-7577 ext. 105. Follow him on Twitter @joshpeterson29