Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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February 5, 2013

Some days this is not the best job in town

— Realizing a longtime dream to finish my working years as a community newspaper publisher has become, to my surprise, somewhat of a mixed blessing.

Or, as I admit to family and close friends, some days this may be the worst job I’ve ever loved.

I’ve grown strongly attached to the give-and-take of reporting the good, the bad and, perhaps too frequently, the ugliness of life.

On the other hand, the newspaper business model can be frustrating at times.

Despite predictions over the last 10 years that newspapers are dying, recent statistics show our industry is regaining its economic footing and making financial gains. Even investment guru Warren Buffett is acquiring newspapers.

Newspapers are becoming more cost-efficient in managing expenses and learning how to effectively utilize, rather than fear, the digital technology that surrounds us.

Yes, reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated. Yet, it seems we have to convince some folks of that fact every business day.

Daily challenges of the free enterprise system aside, I find myself being pulled gradually into the emotional quicksand of broken lives, shattered dreams and hopelessness of those on the wrong side of the news.

Contrary to the accusations of friends and relatives of those identified in crime stories, we find no pleasure in reporting the tales of human misery.

Call it blind loyalty or denial or misplaced family pride, there are those who steadfastly refuse to consider that a loved one could run afoul of the law.

Some of us have experienced the crushing heartbreak of criminal activity in our own families.

We know firsthand of the shame, the parental guilt and the haunting fear that the painful journey could end all too soon in a prison or a cemetery.

We of the press do not seek to add to any family’s burden, but covering this epidemic of crime is like trying to drink from a fire hose.

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Bill Archer
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