Thanks for the welcome, Selma

Published 10:15 pm Thursday, May 17, 2012

When I signed on to join the Times-Journal staff near the end of my senior year at the University of Alabama in April, I vowed to strengthen ties between the newspaper and its readers, and consequently the community and its leaders.

When I entered into the journalism field back in 2008, I couldn’t wrap my head around the job of a news writer.

The only interactions I had out in the field were negative — someone would chase me off their property or not return calls placed earlier in the day — and I failed to grasp why anyone would want to work at a newspaper.

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Then the storm hit.

I was in Tuscaloosa on April 27, 2011 when the tornado took more than 12 percent of my city in a matter of minutes, and I covered much of its aftermath in the minutes, hours, days and months that followed.

And while I won’t delve into the well-documented aftermath of the storm, I will tell you that the connection among individuals living in Tuscaloosa changed after April 27. People began to appreciate the city’s newspapers. Even the school’s newspaper, where I worked as news editor, gained national recognition.

So as I signed my name on the dotted line at the Times-Journal, I was worried I’d be returning to the negatives that I’d finally managed to escape. There’d been no tornado, or any community-changing event as far I knew, to alter Selma’s inhabitants and make them want to be involved with the newspaper.

But now that I’ve completed my first two weeks at the Times-Journal, I can tell you with a great sense of confidence that I was wrong. If there are ties to strengthen, I haven’t seen them yet, and if a negative opinion of the newspaper is out there, I haven’t heard it.

While I’d like to say that this is solely because of the newspaper’s content and track record, I must admit that it’s not. The reputation of the Times-Journal reflects the strong community that it covers.

The strong ties between the newspaper and the community is also exemplified by the number of emails that have flooded my inbox welcoming me to the city these past two weeks. The subjects of my articles have returned my phone calls without anyone having to pull their teeth or twist their arms, and the requests for coverage have my calendar filled through the end of the month.

So thank you, Selma, for making this transition not only pain-free, but enjoyable. I look forward to seeing you around town.