I recently passed my year anniversary with the Coastal Courier and Bryan County News. It seems much longer with all of the challenges we have faced since I walked through the doors the first time.
Our newspapers have remained vital to the communities we serve and now as we move forward with reopening the country and getting plans underway to make our paper and digital platforms improve, I’m excited about our opportunities.
I also got a surprise visit from my cousin Jay Hare this past weekend and combined, we have over 70 years in the newspaper industry. It made me reflect on the years in the business that I care deeply about and, how many talented people I have worked with.
I’ll go ahead and preface my statements by saying I’m sure I won’t mention everyone I cared about or learned from, but I know they will understand.
I can’t begin to thank all the members of the papers here who have battled through the past year facing obstacles we certainly could never have planned for. Caitlyn Smoyer, Patty Leon, Danielle Holden, Addie Ricketson, Eliese Bowles, Hollie Lewis, Jeff Whitten, Jeff DeYoung, Mark Swendra. I also want to thank Lewis Levine, Lawrence Dorsey, Josh Mabry, Penny Gregory and Cindy White for all their contributions. I also want to mention, sadly, the passing of Joe Parker, but his contributions to the community have been numerous and we will miss him here.
I will mention a few names that none of you will recognize, but I know what type of people they are and how good they really are in what they do. I think the majority of people in the newspaper field are honest and just want to get information out to the public. I still believe we do this every time we post a story online or publish an edition.
My first editor, Buddy Murchison and first publisher Joel Starling taught me more than they would ever know and they were inspirations to me. I started my first job writing on a typewriter and I’m sure they had serious reservations about me a time or two. I mentioned Jay my cousin, but he also joined the Andalusia Star-News in the 80’s and was a big part of my growth.
Jay’s one of the best photographers in the country in my opinion. He’s very talented.
Nancy Blackmon, Nina Keenam, Pam Thacker, Paul Stuart and Henry Burt were also part of my first life in newspapers. Jimmy Espy, who took several chances on me during career will always be a special person in the world to me along with Dean Poling and others when I had some stints in Valdosta and then in Cape Coral, Florida. I also have to mention Valerie Harring, Chris Strine, Michael Pistella, Jack Glarrow and all the crews that I worked with during my time with the Breeze Newspapers.
It feels good to mention some of the people that I have worked with over the years and as I said earlier, I’m sure I have left someone out, but that’s what can happen when you have been in an industry for over 40 years. Some of the folks I mentioned aren’t with us anymore and some are still working in the industry. That gives a good feeling because I know their character and their work ethics.
Bringing things back to the present, we are making big plans for the Courier and News. Many of the plans would have been fully developed if we hadn’t had this little pandemic thing going for the last year, but we are working on it and with the good people surrounding us now, just like in the past, we will get things accomplished. If you see me, say “Hey!”
Dee McLelland is Publisher of the Coastal Courier and the Bryan County News.