For those keeping track, this is our 53rd issue of the Carter County Times. We’ve officially been in publication for one year! It’s been a long, hard journey to get here, but we’re proud of the work we’ve done and we’re grateful that you have allowed us to fill the news void left with the closure of the Grayson Journal-Enquirer and Olive Hill Times.
For those that haven’t heard the story, the Carter County Times was born on the walking track in West Liberty, during the depths of the pandemic. I had been the writer for the Grayson and Olive Hill papers, and the only full time employee of the paper when they were closed down by the company that owned them. I took about a month off and didn’t do much of anything, except enjoy spending time with our, then, one-year-old son. I had been put on furlough by the company, and it was my sincere hope that I would be brought back on staff as the Carter County correspondent for our sister paper, the Ashland Daily Independent. When that didn’t happen, though, I began considering what else I might do once I had to find another job.
Nicole and I were trying to stay healthy, despite the lock down, so we drove over to West Liberty to use the walking track there. It circles a nice little park, and it’s large enough that it allowed us to socially distance from other walkers while pushing the baby in a stroller and working up a good sweat. Then Nicole asked the fateful question; “What would it take to start a new newspaper?”
After going over the details that I knew, she got on the internet, began doing some research and, the next thing I knew, we’d registered as a LLC, registered a web domain, and began the process of obtaining a mailing permit to get papers to any future subscribers. The woman is a force of nature, and if it weren’t for her work ethic and drive, this paper would have never been born. It also wouldn’t get out most weeks. Her name doesn’t appear over every story, or in the columns, but her work behind the scenes – handling subscriptions, building ads, laying out content – is arguably more important than what I do. Any over inflated ego with a grasp of the English language and attention for detail can write. But I couldn’t do any of the stuff that she does on a weekly basis to keep this paper going.
That said, I do a lot of work. Way more than I ever did in any of my other editorial or writing roles. Though I’m horrible at it, I’ve had to take on some ad sale duties out of pure necessity. Same with distribution. I get up early on Wednesday mornings (5 a.m.) to drop sorted and labeled papers at the Grayson and Olive Hill post offices, and then deliver to our retail locations all over the county. It’s definitely given me a new appreciation for all the different jobs that others have done at newspapers I’ve worked for in the past. But I think it’s also given both Nicole and me a sense of ownership that we might not have had with a full staff.
It’s exhausting work most weeks, but satisfying in a way that no other newspaper job has ever been. It’s always been an honor and privilege to bring news to our community. But for the last year you’ve embraced us, and supported us, and trusted us to bring you the stories that impact your cities and your county. For that we will forever be thankful to you, our readers. We do this for you, and we couldn’t do it without you. So, thank you for spending the last year with us, and here’s to many more to come.
Jeremy D. Wells can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org