Greg Bassett: Saying goodbye to Best Year Ever

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but 2015 was by far the most fulfilling year in this formerly exhausted newspaper editor’s life.

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You folks who read the Salisbury Independent still seem to appreciate the newspaper we hand-craft for you each week. I hear so many appreciative responses to my goofy #MakingANewspaperTuesday posts on Facebook and Twitter that I should probably copyright that hashtag.

What a great year, filled with great people, and great stories and photos reporting great achievements. Going through old issues of the Salisbury Independent, as I did this week for our Year In Review coverage, one can’t help but conclude that we live in a special community filled with people who truly care.

Some people say we only print the happy news. That’s an exaggeration; we do print lots of happy news, but only because there’s so much good news going on out there. A newspaper can and should, after all, reflect the community it serves.

This year, we’ve taken great effort to publish news from our public and private schools, where so many amazing things occur while children develop with the help of some outstanding educators.

We have published pretty much every photo sent to us in which someone was being presented an award or donating a check to a nonprofit. (If we didn’t print it, it was only because it was out of focus or badly lit.) We want to celebrate achievement: We hope recognition not only touts achievers, but also inspires others to act.

That sort of news will always have a home in the Salisbury Independent.

In 2015 we experimented with some “explainer stories” that read and felt at times like college term papers, such as the examination of Wor-Wic Community College’s economic impact on the community; the deep packages we produced on the elected school board issue (which voters will ultimately rule on in a referendum); and the exhaustive coverage on West Salisbury Elementary School ─ should it be rebuilt, repaired, expanded, and at what costs?

Our largest story package in any single issue was an explainer/primer on opiate abuse and how heroin has overtaken our community. Far from happy news and difficult to read because of the overwhelming nature of the issue, our coverage received tremendously positive, appreciative feedback from you, the readers.

I also receive positive feedback on our commitment to give special attention to news from the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce. This group is doing great things for our community, and their special monthly pages reflect those efforts.

A product we added this year, Wicomico Real Estate Now, has also been reviewed as a fun read (both the Chamber pages and real estate tab appear on the second Thursday of each month).

We didn’t do as many Independent Q&As as when we first started, but there were some wonderful ones through the year. My favorites were Mitzi Perdue, Tom Brown, Mike Lewis and Andrea Berstler.

It’s an absolute pleasure working each week with my colleague (and sometimes competitor) of 27 years, reporter Susan Canfora. And, toward the end of this year, I’ve been exhilarated to work again with friends and colleagues Brice Stump (we’ve been together 37 years) and Todd Dudek (just 36 years together).

Contributors who have worked to make this newspaper a success going back to May 2014 include a truly talented roster: Kristin Roberts, Tracy Sahler, Linda Duyer, Kim Hudson and Amanda Weaver.

And photographer Tony Weeg, who loves Salisbury almost as much as I do (OK, probably more), has used his talents to give Salisbury Independent a “look” that marketers and branders can only envy.

Another highlight of the year was Phil Tilghman giving me his “One on One” interview show on PAC 14. The interplay with those newsmaker-guests has helped the newspaper’s content, while also providing a public service.

Two special people helped me a lot in making everything work so well during the year: Already a man of many hats, Darin Powell works very hard making sure Salisbury Independent’s covers and key pages look sharp. Over at PAC 14, I can’t thank producer Tom Taylor enough for his help in making me TV-presentable.

An editor can’t make a newspaper in a vacuum environment. Reader feedback and input are essential. Good employees look forward to evaluations, especially when those reviews are helpful and encouraging. Please contact me anytime with your thoughts on making this newspaper better.

Best year ever! Thank you.

 

Greg Bassett is editor and general manager of Salisbury Independent. Reach him at gbassett@newszap.com

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