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For some of you with long memories, etc
Jeff Whitten NEW
Jeff Whitten is managing editor of the Bryan County News and Coastal Courier, his favorite papers. - photo by File photo

Some of you with long memories may remember me from my time here as a staff writer and then sports editor way back in the day from 1999 to 2006. 

Some of you may remember me from my last go round here as editor from 2016 to 2018. 

If so, I’m back and just as funny looking as ever, just older and more beat up because being in newspapers is kind of like driving a school bus. We count our years on the job in dog years, and that means I’ve been a reporter of sorts for 144 years, give or take seven years here and there. 

I’m still working at the Bryan County News over in Pembroke and Richmond Hill, too, but more on that down the road. For now, I’m in both places and things at the Courier have certainly changed.  

In the big change department, my dear friend and mentor Pat Watkins is now working for the Liberty County Development Authority. He’s probably cringing at my description of him as a mentor and “dear friend,” and that’s why I do it. This place isn’t the same without him. 

Let’s see, what else?

We’re a lot leaner in the newsroom than we were, though there is a new face in the newsroom (at least new to me) in Kayla Gamble. I look forward to learning from her.  And there’s a new HR sheriff in town, Abigail Totman-McGill. 

Of course, the Courier’s only a weekly now - though there’s still the 24/7 website dedicated to breaking news and fixing it when we can. Sorry, I sort of stole that from the Daily Show. 

The Courier was two days a week when I left, and three days a week back when I first started, and old Joe Parker Jr., who is still poking around the weeds as a freelancer, used to say  three days a week was enough to be useful and not so often as to be annoying, or something  like that. Joe, of course, taped a piece of paper over the newsroom clock back then with “It’s later than you  think” written on it in bold letters. But I digress. This gradual death by paper cuts, or by cutting papers, is how it’s going for newspapers everywhere, sadly. I read somewhere the other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, one of the nation’s oldest dailies, is down to publishing three days a week. The Statesboro Herald, a daily for decades, is also down to three days a week. 

And as revenues fall for various and sundry reasons, so does our ability to do our jobs the way they should be done, but it is what it is. 

You hear all kinds of reasons why newspapers are dying a slow death. I blame much of it on Facebookery and will leave it at that. On the other hand, someone probably has to do it else the world might pop from all the pent up selfies and drama and tempests in a teacup with nowhere to go. 

Luckily, there are some constants remaining at the Courier. 

The legend Elly Mattingly is still here, as is the gifted Caitlyn Smoyer, a former sergeant and a hero of mine, and the busy Darlene Redmond in circulation. There’s also Lewis “Murder and Mayhem” Levine, the rascal. We go way back, he and I. 

And Patty Leon, only now she’s general manager and deservedly so. She used to boss me around when I was editor and she was a reporter, so nothing’s much changed in our relationship. She still bosses me around and still reports up a storm. What else hasn’t changed? 

It seems the FishWrap guy is still out there, of course, threatening to use the Courier for something more intimate than wrapping fish if we don’t step up our Sound Off game.  

Note to FishWrap: Just so you know, I do not know if the Courier is printed on septic-tank safe paper. 

Note to all: It’s good to be back, because I do love Liberty County and this little old newspaper, and you brave and hardy souls who stick by it in the hard times. 

I’m back, and it’s good to be back, but Lord help us all.  

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