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Well, this is it.
By the time this newspaper reaches your hands, I’ll have boxed up much of the stuff in my office, passed on as many instructions and how-to’s as I can, and will be counting down the hours until I walk out of the Beacon office for the last time Friday.
It’s hard to believe this journey, a newspaper career that has spanned countless hours for almost 15 years, is going to be over.
Fitting, it seems, that just this weekend I stumbled across a quote from writer A.A. Milne. Attributed to his much-loved Winnie the Pooh it says, simply, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
I’ve been surprised in the weeks leading up to my departure just how hard saying goodbye is going to be.
It’s not the long hours or nights and weekends of work that I’ll have trouble saying goodbye to.
And it won’t be the callers who spew angry threats if we publish their public records in our crime and court reports.
Sitting in this chair isn’t easy.
Nor is it easy to sit in any of the chairs at a newspaper.
The hours are long. The processes are grueling. The work is emotionally draining, and the pay isn’t great.
I got into the business to write, to tell stories, and that’s the part that’s going to be hard to say goodbye to.
It’s the men and women and children of all ages who’ve shared a small part of their lives, both good and bad, so we could use photos and words to tell their tales.
It’s the people who’ve called and sent emails and stopped by the office just to say, “Wow. This is a great newspaper. Thanks for what you do.”
It’s the staff I’ve come to know as my own odd-bunch of family. When I arrived here I was an orphan of sorts, no immediate living family and uprooted from my old Kentucky home.
They have been by my side as I’ve made mistakes, as I’ve learned and as I have grown into myself as both an editor and a person.
They’ve cheered me on for personal and team accomplishments, both big and small.
They’ve picked on me and learned how, for the most part, to decipher my odd sense of humor. And some get tickled, maybe even a little entertained, when my stories take forever to tell.
Or maybe they’ve just learned how to put up with me in general.
And there are many people in the community who have rallied behind me and cheered me on.
The list is long and I can’t mention them all, but special thanks to Birdie Frink and Jean and Fran Pelletier. They have been the kindest of souls who have offered prayer and words of encouragement when the road seemed too long and too tough.
My words of gratitude seem not enough.
As the Beacon’s managing editor there are decisions I’ve made that haven’t made everyone happy. Are there things in retrospect I would have done differently? Absolutely.
But I hope my legacy here, albeit a brief one in this newspaper’s 51 years of history, is that I was always thoughtful and that I did my best to be fair and honest and ethical.
And maybe on occasion, I touched someone’s life and maybe inspired a staff member or two.
My departure wouldn’t be complete without saying how proud I am of this newspaper.
In difficult financial times, we have remained profitable. We have continued to produce a top-notch newspaper. We’ve grown and expanded our community news coverage when our news staff and advertising revenue have gotten smaller.
I’m so proud of our accolades. They range from readers who call and say, “Great job,” to being consistently best in our division with the North Carolina Press Association (check the March 28 paper for results of the 2012 awards competition, which will be announced at a Chapel Hill ceremony on March 21), to repeated honors by our newspaper group, Landmark Community Newspapers, and the National Newspaper Association.
I’m proud of the work we do here. It’s been my life since I moved to North Carolina.
It is, truly as Milne said, a blessing to have been a part of something so wonderful that it’s hard to say goodbye.
Stacey Manning, managing editor of The Brunswick Beacon, departs from the Beacon on Friday, March 15. The following week she assumes a new role as the public relations and communications manager for Wilmington-based Lower Cape Fear Hospice & LifeCareCenter.