Since I announced my departure from the paper, I've had to answer the same question- "Why? What happened?" Well, I would have to say what happened was that I was given the awesome opportunity to be a part of something much bigger than myself. I was a part of team that saw a community longing for more news about what was going on in their own neighborhoods, schools and churches and set out to do something about it. I helped start a new publication with a focus based on what's happening in the community and not on who happens to be sitting in the editor's chair.
Working at The Rockdale News has been an experience many people in the newspaper industry never get the chance to experience. Most journalists join an organization, but very few ever get the chance to put their thumbprint on one. I've had the opportunity to do that at The Rockdale News.
But as with any opportunity that comes in our lives, there is always price or a sacrifice that needs to be made. And as individuals, we have to decide how much of a price we are willing to pay. I believe that price is largely (or should be largely) determined by where you are in your life. The decisions I made when my husband and I were newlyweds and the decisions we'll make when we are empty-nesters will be totally different than the ones we make today. And there are decisions that can only be made today. My life will never again be where it is right now and I'd like to experience every moment of it without regret. While there are many things that I can sacrifice, there are very few that I will ask my family to give up on my behalf.
As I spend my final two weeks at the paper transitioning out of the editor role and helping Michelle, the new editor, transition in, one very happy thought came to my mind. One day, when I'm old and gray, I'll be able to share the story of how I helped start a newspaper. And that is going to be a great story to tell.
A couple of weeks ago, Rockdale County Probate Judge Lillis Brown took me on a tour of the archives where court records and old newspapers are stored. There, stacked neatly on the racks, were back copies of newspapers I never knew existed - The Rockdale Register, The Conyers News, and The Conyers Weekly-Banner. I read about C.J. Hicks, who was a teacher here in Rockdale, and how doctors in 1876 touted the harmful effects of cigar and pipe smoke. Maybe one day, Rockdale residents will be able to read the very first edition of The Rockdale News and marvel at what made news way back in 2009.
Tisa Smart Washington is the former editor The Rockdale News and currently the News' senior reporter and can be reached at email@example.com.