A lot can change your mind in 3 years

Published 7:58 pm Friday, February 25, 2011

Three years is a long time. Maybe not in the grand scheme of things, but when you slow down and really look at the day-to-day lessons and development, three years is a long time.

Three years ago today I walked into The Demopolis Times as the sports editor for the very first time.

I was excited. I planned to bust it for two years and then move on to a bigger newspaper in a bigger town.

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I was 26 and little idea how the business of a community newspaper really worked.

More than anything, I had no idea how a community really worked.

What has transpired in the 36 months since that first day has been a never-ending whirlwind of change. Some good. Some not so good. All of it necessary in some way or another.

My first day on the job saw me take over the sports page of a five-day-a-week newspaper.

The office was noisy. The pace was fast. I was overwhelmed.

Now, three years later, we are a twice-a-week newspaper with an additional weekly newspaper, the Blackbelt Gazette.

Of the faces in that building my first day, only Bernice McAlpine, our classified manager, remains. But even her job is decidedly different than it once was.

I walked in on the premise that I was a sports guy and had no intention of turning into a news guy.

Now, I enjoy news and feature stories about as much as I do sports stories.

And that whole notion that I would put in two years and bolt for greener pastures? I have since learned that Demopolis has pretty green pastures.

So I am 12 months past the deadline I gave myself. And I am in a vastly different job than the one I took 1,096 days ago.

But, as previously stated, three years is a long time. It is enough time for things to change a great deal.

And while the environment around me has changed a lot, I think I have actually changed considerably more.

I no longer desire the fast pace and big stories of the country’s elite newspapers. I no longer have the desire to be in major media markets, covering the country’s most publicized athletes.

I like the pace of Demopolis. I like covering the athletes of Demopolis.

I like this market.

The difference between 26 and 29 may be miniscule on paper. But in terms of real life, it means the difference between feeling the need to be somewhere else and feeling the need to slow the world down and appreciate the moment.

That is probably the main thing I have learned. Granted, I now know that the picture I ran with a Demopolis football story my first week was actually of Southern Academy. And I know who all the coaches are.

And I know who most of the athletes are.

And, for the most part, I know who to call to find out what is going on in the world of Marengo County.

I know how to handle stories, the people who read them and the people who are in them.

And I know a little better how to not live and die on whether or not I have a good day or a bad day at the office.

But, more than anything, I know how to not rush things even in a business that demands it. I know how to take a deep breath and appreciate every day for what it is. A lot can happen in three years.

Jeremy D. Smith is the community editor of The Demopolis Times.