By the time you are reading this column, some of you may have already met our newest reporter, Andrew Wigger.
He, Elyssa and I attended Newberry College together and I worked with him some when I did freelance work for the college and he interned in the marketing department.
He’s a gifted writer and I know folks will welcome him into the community just as folks in Whitmire welcomed me when I started with the now defunct Whitmire News back in 2010.
Welcome aboard, Andrew.
He’s doing training this week and by Friday will be taking my place at The Newberry Observer.
I am leaving the paper to become lab monitor at Newberry Elementary School and Friday is my last day.
This new adventure may surprise some of you but it’s really about me getting back to something I love to do — working with children.
Some of you know, but many of you may not, that I got my start in journalism with a Christian children’s magazine, The Little Lutheran. The magazine is for children age six and under and also publishes under The Little Christian.
I learned a lot about writing while working with the magazine’s editor, Elizabeth Hunter, and in time contributed to The Lutheran Magazine with pieces like the column we reprinted here for Father’s Day.
I still write for children in my free time but much of my time has been spent here at the newspaper.
I love journalism and helping people stay in the know and share their stories. But I also love working with children.
That combination is what made the Newberry Elementary job so appealing to me.
In addition to helping students learn to use computers, helping teachers learn to use iPads and maintaining the school Facebook page and website, I’ll be involved in writing news stories about events at NES.
I’ve already used the photography and writing skills I’ve developed in journalism for web projects for the school, in fact.
So, this job combines two things I am passionate about and I am excited to begin, even though parts of leaving the paper are bittersweet.
I started in 2010 with the Whitmire News and then worked with our sister paper The Herald Independent for nearly two years before I was transferred back home to Newberry.
The weeks since February have flown by Monday, Wednesday, Friday, as deadlines beckoned.
Elyssa and I have a great newsroom chemistry unlike the other small newsrooms I have worked in. I’ll miss that most of all. She’s grown a lot as a writer and reporter over the past five or so months and I have been proud to be a part of that with her. The paper will be solid with her as the veteran reporter here now.
Even though I am leaving, I will still see y’all around in the area. The cameras you see me carrying around town are my own and I plan to use them for some freelance work. I’ll be out in the community, just off the clock now. It will take some getting used to after all these years, but that’s something I am looking forward to as well.
The most exciting thing about the NES job is it gives me a chance to use the skills I’ve developed at the paper and contribute to something I am also passionate about — education.
So in the spirit of education, here are a few tips for Andrew from things I learned in the field over the years:
• Keep boots and jeans in your car. You never know when a story will involve you trudging through a cow pasture.
• Yes, sir and no, ma’am go a long way around these parts.
• If you’re up late the night before and have an early morning interview, wear closed toed shoes so you can wiggle your toes to perk yourself up if you feel like yawning.
• Teachers say there are no stupid questions, but be sure to prep for interviews so you ask intelligent ones.
• Fast is good. Faster is better for journalism, but be sure to give each story its due attention.
• Spell the names right (yes I goofed on this some but … spell the names right).
• Writer’s block is a myth. Besides, we are way too busy for that in a newsroom of two.
• Keep some crackers and water on hand in your car at all times. You never know where the day may take you or when a breaking story breaks into mealtime.
• Get your laughs were you can find ‘em, because you’ll see a lot at this job. I remember the day I saw my first body. When that happens to you, call me up and I’ll buy you a beer.
• Make sure copy arrives on time.
• For me it helped to do the little things first, like updating calendars and news briefs and THEN work on stories so things did not fall through the cracks.
• Jogging helps. You never know when you may need those wheels as you cover a story.
• Deep breaths. Just breathe, man, and trust your stuff as a writer. Deadlines are always hectic but after a few months you become more acclimated to it.
Thanks, Newberry, for all the experiences we’ve shared as I occupied this desk at The Newberry Observer.
It’s been a special time in my life and I cannot wait to share life lessons I learned while here with young people at NES.
Kevin Boozer is a staff writer for The Newberry Observer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.