When I came to Lexington in 1998 to become the arts writer for the Lexington Herald-Leader, I left a job as arts and entertainment editor for the Banner-Herald in Athens, Ga.
In our business, that can be seen as a demotion, though it is a transition many of us make — editing and reporting being distinctly different tasks. I thoroughly enjoyed directing A&E coverage in Athens but missed reporting and writing: Too much desk jockeying, not enough shoe leather.
And when I arrived here, there was a very distinct divide between editing and writing, writing and photography, etc.
The past five to 10 years have been rough on print journalism, with a steady downsizing and consolidation. I have been blessed to find unlikely opportunity in the change. In the earliest days of my career, I debated whether to follow writing or photography, and in recent years found my way back to taking pictures as part of my reporting work. And even more recently, in short bursts, I have returned to editing, standing in for my editor, Scott Shive, when he was away. It has been fun to return to that craft, making choices and calls that shape issues of Weekender, and our other coverage.
As many of you probably read last Friday, Scott is leaving for a job opportunity outside journalism. I greeted the news with an image of Edvard Much’s Scream and got misty when I got an out-of-office return email late Friday that read “Scott Shive no longer works at the Herald-Leader.” Our nine-and-a-half years is the longest editor-writer relationship I have enjoyed, and it has been a distinguished one for Scott as he launched our LexGo online entertainment page and revamped Weekender to the most logical and enjoyable format of any weekend entertainment tab I have seen. His broad imagination and vision have benefited readers through nearly a decade of big change in Lexington entertainment and journalism.
But now, it is time for a new era.
Scott’s position is not being filled. But it is being redistributed, and I get to have the fun of directing our local arts and entertainment coverage as an assigning editor, while continuing my work as a writer. It almost has me singing that Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus signature song, Best of Both Worlds, but not quite. (There’s a reason I write about singers, as opposed to singing.)
I get to work with the best group of freelance writers in Lexington, led by the iconic Walter Tunis, with the help of our great staff at the Herald-Leader, including Cheryl Truman, who now covers local media for us.
In the last week, I have been getting sympathetic looks from friends and colleagues who know life will be a bit crazier and more challenging without the guidance of Scott, whose departure I mourn.
But I am also excited.
Since I got here, all I have seen is Lexington’s arts and entertainment scene grow and diversify. Who in my profession wouldn’t relish having a part in not only covering that, but directing coverage of it?
A newspaper section is a reflection of its editor. I am not sure what my touch in 2014 and beyond will be. I have some ideas that are about to meet reality. One thing I would really encourage you to do is like LexGo on Facebook and follow it on Twitter, because those outlets are getting more active with news, features and live coverage.
While there may be some subtle changes in coming weeks and months, nothing major is in the plans now. For nine-and-a-half years, Scott has called a really good tune, and I am happy to keep playing it.