Just over 20 years ago, I wrote my first news story for The Sampson Independent, two years later, my first editorial. I was humbled to have the opportunity to do both, just as I am humbled every day I am blessed to walk through the doors of this great institution that remains a fixture in the community nearly 90 years after the first news content was inked.
You see, in my return to a community that helped raise me — from those who brought me closer to God to those who encouraged my pursuit of a career in journalism — I was afforded the opportunity to not only do what I love but to do it in a place that has a tight grasp on my heart. And for people — from Plain View to Kerr Station, Autryville to Turkey and everywhere in between — who I’ve come to consider extensions of my family and friends.
You see I don’t do this just to make a living; I do it to make a difference. And while those differences may often be small, I hope and pray every day that we, at the newspaper, never lose sight of that as our ultimate goal, whether we write the stories, deliver the paper, sell the ads or greet all of our wonderful customers who come into our offices every day.
It is my goal as editor, and in my new position as community relations manager, to ensure we don’t. It is also my goal to provide you, our thousands of readers, with the very best customer service you can imagine. You have been loyal to us for decades, and we will remain loyal to you.
What does that mean? It means ensuring your paper is delivered on time every day; helping promote your businesses in the most professional way possible; listening to your opinions and seeking your criticism; striving to keep you informed about what goes on in our community — the good and, unfortunately, the bad — and being fair and accurate in doing so. It also means promoting your children, supporting churches and civic organizations, giving voice to those without one and standing behind business and industry that make it possible for Sampson to be the great county it has always been.
In short, being loyal to you means giving you our best every single day. And our best is what you will get. If we goof — and as humans we will do just that — you’ll get a heartfelt apology; when we earn your praise, you’ll get the thanks.
We are here because of you; that is something we will never lose sight of as we work each day to offer you all the services you’ve come to expect … and deserve.
Over the years those services have grow, now including not just our print edition but an online version, a soon-to-be launched social community website, an agricultural magazine, a magazine that promotes our students and their educators, a medical guide, a community directory and a host of other publications designed to inform and entertain.
But even as we grow,we will never lose sight of what has kept us strong decade after decade — our loyal readers, who over generations have made this newspaper the community institution it is today, the place that was built on family, faith and a desire to serve.
We, at The Sampson Independent, intend to stick close to those roots and build on the traditions that helped make us strong.
When I graduated from Clinton High School in 1978, and fueled by the inspiration of such great teachers as Cynthia Shell and Susan Nance Sautter, I was determined to conquer the world. I earned an English and communications degree and began my journalistic journey, working at papers across North and South Carolina.
Eventually I made my way back home and to the newspaper that had been a part of my life since I was old enough to read the Mini Page. I’ve had numerous offers to go to larger papers at far bigger cities across the United States, but I stayed here because I love this community and believe in this newspaper and what it can offer to its readers.
And for what readers offer me — the chance to live my dream each and every day by serving them.
Together we can turn those small differences into large ones and, in doing so, leave our community stronger for those who will follow.