I’m not a math person, so I wouldn’t want to hazard how many hours or words I’ve spent in the last 10 years reporting on Troup County.
A lot. That’s my best estimate.
There’s been plenty I’ve enjoyed, plenty I honestly haven’t. Many times I’ve been brought to tears, blinding anger or hopeless frustration. Many times I’ve felt exhilarated, accomplished and proud.
I’ve worked through holidays, vacations and important life events, and canceled trips and doctor’s appointments.
I’ve worked on stories that I’ve loved and met many new people. I’ve learned so much by firsthand experience over the last 10 years, and I doubt I would’ve learned half as much in another field.
I got married. I learned what it was like to be a father. I felt what it was like to lose a brother and two grandmothers.
I got divorced. I reconnected with old friends. I made new ones and found new love.
I’ve learned how to be a better writer – with much help from more experienced journalists – to be a better photographer, to better socialize and interact with people, to better understand my community, to be a better editor and learned how to be a supervisor.
And I’ve learned more than a few things about the community, like how people in Troup County are philanthropic. It’s been said many times, but it’s true. It seems like there is a nonprofit organization on every corner and a fundraiser every day. People here are never short on giving, whether it’s monetary, volunteering time or showing up for a 5K or benefit tournament.
Also, we don’t stay inside the box. There is no shortage of people in Troup County who don’t just think outside the box, but kick it aside and create something new. And when new ideas come to the fore, the whole community becomes part of the conversation.
There is plenty more, but the short version is I’ve had the opportunity to be in the thick of all these things and more. To have a front-row seat to changes and decisions that have affected our county. I’ve gotten an intimate lesson on the workings – and glitches – of government.
It’s experience I wouldn’t trade for anything – but it’s time for a change. Ten years in this profession feels like a lifetime.
I’m not leaving LaGrange, and I plan to keep writing on an occasional basis, but I do feel like I’m leaving a big part of my life behind. I’ve spent the better part of a decade in this office covering and publishing the local news.
By the time you read this, I’ll have woken up to a world where I’ll be on the other side – reading about local happenings for the first time when I open the LaGrange Daily News.
And I do plan to continue reading and learning about the community, and I truly think it’s important for people in the community to do so as well. This office is filled with good, hard-working people with a passion for what they do. It drives them to dedicate so much of themselves to the best product they can make, often with the barest of resources.
I hope – and know – more passionate people will walk through the doors of the Daily News and continue to give it all they have. I have confidence in what we do – what they will do – and I hope you do too.
Matthew Strother is the former editor of LaGrange Daily News.