By Jimmy Espy, General Manager
You know that Johnny Cash song where he names all those small towns across America.
“I’ve been to Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota
Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota …”
My newspaper career reads similarly.
Since graduating from West Georgia College in 1985, I’ve worked at newspapers in Summerville, Bremen, Dalton (twice), Valdosta (twice), Enterprise (Ala.), Laurel (Miss.), Griffin, Warner Robins and Cape Coral, Fla.
I’ve written for the front page, the sports page, lifestyles, features, business, opinion, etc. I’ve sold advertising, designed pages and delivered newspapers.
I’ve been hired, fired, mired and nearly retired.
This week I’m taking over as editor from Kyle Presley, who has been editor for the past year. Kyle, who I worked with in Dalton a lifetime ago, has done a good job with The Times. I hope to do at least as well.
I love small town newspapers and when I heard there was an opening at The Times, I was very interested. My family and I live in Dalton, so Chatsworth was close. In fact, it is about half as far as the job I was working at the time, which was staff writer at The Summerville News, in Chattooga County.
As I mentioned before, my newspaper career has range but it also has roots.
The Espy family has been in the newspaper business for more than 100 years. My great-grandfather purchased The Summerville News more than a century ago and it’s still in our family today.
I worked in Summerville for the last nine years, which was pretty good training for coming to Chatsworth. Chattooga and Murray counties have a lot in common — similar economies, sole commissioners, beautiful scenery and mostly rural and small town working folks. It’s the kind of place I grew up in and the kind of place that has always interested me.
I believe that local newspapers should play an important role in small communities. They do this primarily in a very simple way, by telling the truth. Sometimes the truth comes wrapped in roses. Other times, it can be tough to stomach.
Newspapers should be informative, entertaining and essential. The News will strive to be all these things and more.
There will be changes over time. No two editors think alike.
But in making changes, I’ll always be looking to make the newspaper more informative and entertaining. Readers come first.
I’ll ask for your patience during the transition period. There’s not a lot in this business I haven’t done, but there is a lot I haven’t done lately.
Please consider my office door open. I’d love to hear from you. Suggestions, praise and criticism are all welcome.
I am happy to be at The Times and look forward to making this a better newspaper.