Friday, December 30, 2011

Farewells are always bittersweet...

When I walked into The Reporter newsroom for the first time as a new employee more than 38 years ago, I was both scared and excited.
Scared, because as a new college graduate, this was my first “real” job — those summers working at a card factory didn’t count. Excited, because the hum of activity was palpable.
Reporters were typing away — yes, typing, at manual typewriters; the AP teletype machine was clattering out reams of news copy, with bells ringing for important stories and alerts; the police radio was loud and constant; and the editor — the stern Cal Craig who was the stereotypical old-school newsman — was barking out instructions to one of the photographers.
It was so similar to movies I had seen about tough news reporters breaking a hot story that I could almost taste it. It didn’t matter that I had been hired to write obits, social news and rewrites, plus take care of the morgue — as the newsroom library was called. It was a job in a newsroom and I couldn’t have been happier.

Here's a photo of me from the late 1970s ... thanks to former chief photographer Willard Krieble for catching me looking my best at a construction site!

Since that day I started at The Reporter in early September 1973, I’ve written plenty of hard news stories and features; shared through my columns and my blog so much of my life, from the tragic to the comic, from the mundane to the magical. You have come to know my daughter and my cats; you knew of the tragedy of losing my husband nearly eight years ago.
You helped me through the rough patches in my life and often called, wrote or stopped me out in the community to let me know how much you enjoyed my cat stories.
So it’s extremely bittersweet to write my last column as editor of The Reporter today.
Yes, I am “retiring” from this career in journalism to start a totally new chapter in my life.
I will be working at a local veterinary hospital; many of you probably think that’s a natural fit for me, having heard my many animal stories. And I am looking forward to the new challenges and opportunities that I am sure this change will bring.
But I will greatly miss all the fine people here at The Reporter and within the Journal Register Co. family.
And I will miss you, my readers and friends in the community, very much.
When I started at The Reporter, it was a private company headed by the Knipe and Berky families. I was here when it was bought by Gannett in 1980 and then by Journal Register in 2001.
I have pounded out those stories on manual typewriters, rejoiced when we switched to electric models, sweated out learning how to use our very first computers and then eased into different systems as computers advanced.
Now I blog, tweet, SMS, post to Facebook and our website, and shoot the occasional video as well as write, edit, work with my mobile news staff and continually strive to learn the latest technology.
When I started here, The Reporter was an afternoon newspaper delivered in part by kids on bikes. We long ago switched to morning delivery, but now we are producing news 24/7 through our website and social media.
Yes, that print edition still is delivered every day, but news also is provided through alerts to smartphones, the website, Twitter and Facebook.
It’s strange to  think back to my first years here, when we typed up our copy and sent it to the composing room in a pneumatic tube;  when I was sent to meet the train in Lansdale so that a freelancer in Doylestown could send his stories via the conductor, to then be typed up and placed in The Reporter because there were no fax machines.
Yes, what changes there have been.
But there are constants as well. There are so many wonderful people in the community that I have been fortunate enough to meet over my nearly four decades here. There are so many who care deeply about this area, the schools, the municipalities, the children.
We have so many devoted readers, who are now becoming bloggers, joining us in our crowdsourcing efforts, following us on Twitter and letting us know what you think we should be covering.
It is gratifying to know that you are so connected to your communities, and so connected to The Reporter.
All of that will continue as The Reporter evolves in the years ahead, with your help.
I won’t be here as an editor anymore, but I still will be reading and blogging as a community blogger. Perhaps you’ll join me in becoming a blogger as well.
It will be strange to not head to Lansdale and walk up those steps to the newsroom every day. I will miss the chatter of the police radio, the interaction with the reporters and the constant whirlwind that is a newsroom.
But I know quality journalism will continue to be produced by The Reporter, and with your help, it will continue to succeed.
Yes, it is hard on one hand to say goodbye; to, in editing parlance, put that “30” at the end of this part of my career.
But I have been very fortunate to be part of The Reporter family for such a long time. And I know that I am leaving the newsroom in good hands.

AND IF WILLARD KRIEBLE is reading this... a special note to you: 700 to 718... over and out. 


Debster said...

I have loved your comments and editorials; I shall miss you. Have a great future working at the vet's office; it IS a good fit and one that I myself would love to do (of course, I'd end up taking all the strays - dogs and cats - home!)

Martha in PA said...

Nona, you will be missed. I enjoyed our recent conversations! I love that you are retiring to do something that you love!

Keep us posted with some tweets!!!

Jay Gordon said...

We live in a time of transience--transient lifstyles, transient careers--a time in which spending 38 years with one organization is almost unheard of. That you were able to have a remarkable 38-year career with this organization is a testament both to your ability and to The Reporter's good sense. Thank you for all you have done for our community, and enjoy all that this next season in your life has to offer!

Anonymous said...

Good Luck in your new job.
I will miss you and your comments.
Could you still do an occasional blog?

Donna Mengel said...

Nona- Thank you so much for all your years of devoted service to the North Penn Community. Your dedication and commitment to this job for 38 years is hard to match by anyone! Our lives have crossed and criss-crossed over the years and I have enjoyed reading about your cats (though I hate cats with a passion) which you almost made come alive as "human" and the growing up years of your daughter. I was heartbroken to read/learn of the death of your husband- but quite impressed at your stoic push forward to stay on balance. May the Lord bless your future plans and purposes and give you good health, cheer and safety as you turn the page of this long chapter! Blessings always- Donna Mengel