20 years later, it’s still a rollercoaster
The title atop the column in this space two decades ago was, “The rollercoaster ride begins.”
It was my first column in the first issue of this newspaper — Feb. 10, 1993.
Most of the names on that first masthead are gone, including one signally important one — Dave Hamrick, the first managing editor of what was then called The Fayette Citizen.
He died in 2002 at age 51 as he was playing soccer in a local over-40 league, after getting the paper out earlier that Tuesday. After getting the paper out.
That was 11 years ago. I miss him to this day. He shaped the news coverage of this paper from its first edition all the way through the terrible days of September 2001. Every story on the first front page is written by him.
First I worked for him in the 1980s at the old Fayette Sun. Then, after the Sun folded in January 1993, and some of its veterans came together to raise up a new paper, he worked for me.
But that was a technicality — Dave was a man of singular integrity, and he covered and wrote about the news from that solid foundation.
Some of us from that first year are still around: The names of Diann Cupertino, Judy Kilgore, Kathy Hasse, Carolyn Cary and Sallie Satterthwaite are on the masthead in this issue.
Here are excerpts from my first column on this page as editor and publisher:
“About four weeks ago, some 22,000 of us in Fayette County said goodbye to a good local newspaper [The Sun]. Now, several of us Sun veterans are back again, with the new paper in town.
“It’s a scary, fun, nerve-wracking, exhilarating rollercoaster, this business of starting up a new newspaper in a competitive — and critically literate — market. From an idea in a few people’s heads to the paper you’re holding in your hands, this enterprise is less than a month old.
“... We’re trusting that you will ride with us through the initial bumps and that you will share our hopes for a professional, competently produced local paper that will remain relevant to life as you live it in Fayette County.
“Relevance is going to be our watchword here at The Citizen. We intend to give you a weekly newspaper that serves you in the daily business of living — from your trips to the supermarket to your weekend movie excursions, from your bowling league to your daughter’s soccer trophy, from your retail shopping to your Sunday church activities.
“We will provide perspective on local government actions that will affect you, your children and your property. We expect to encourage responsible citizenship among our readers and responsive service from our public officials. Such encouragement might take the form of applause at times, of criticism at others. In all cases we stand accountable to you, our readers.
“... If you think we are missing the point on some issue, write me and tell your side. I want to hear you, and I suspect some other folks might find what you have to say to be interesting as well.
“I hope that ... you will give us a shot at informing you, engaging you, even surprising you.”
When we started in 1993, both email and the Internet were ahead in the unseen future. So many things — and people — have changed.
But 20 years later, our goals are the same now as then.
Dave Hamrick also had a column on the same page of that inaugural issue. The title of Dave’s column was, “Let’s have fun along the way.”
He did, and we have. Let’s keep having fun a while longer.
[Cal Beverly is editor and publisher of The Citizen.]