Some may call me persistent, others would say annoying, but I wanted to work at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal so badly that I emailed management incessantly when I learned there was a reporter job opening in 2017.
I was about to graduate with my third degree from Texas Tech University with no real job prospects and a need to stay in Lubbock. I had freelanced for the paper and some of its magazines for a few months when the business reporter position became available. I wasn’t going to easily take “no” for an answer.
The A-J is the paper my Granny eagerly woke up before dawn each morning to read cover-to-cover. It’s the paper I was on the front page of in high school, albeit a very small photo, for a story about career and technical education when I anchored LISD-TV’s newscast. It’s the publication my Nana has saved almost every edition that I have a byline in.
But it’s time to start a new chapter.
This past week was my last at the A-J, ending my three-year tenure at the newspaper. I could not have asked for a better job, or a better newsroom, to begin my career.
I hate that I’m closing this chapter during my seventh week of working mostly from home. We should be congregated around Matt Dotray’s desk, the cubicle behind my own and our office’s informal meeting spot, planning the next day’s paper and joking about whatever we can. I’ll greatly miss each of my fellow reporters. But I’ll still see them around.
I start on Monday as a producer at Texas Tech Public Media, the local NPR affiliate, where I’ll report for kttz.org and 89.1 FM. We’re building a nonprofit newsroom that will focus on what I think of as a “Sunday story” - reports that go deeper than daily coverage and brings to light the challenges our community faces.
For the foreseeable future, that means sharing the impact COVID-19 has had on Lubbockites.
I’m the same journalist I’ve been through my young career, and have dreamed of being since I was a kid. I will continue to grow and pursue stories that make me and you think. I’ll just be over there now. I hope you’ll continue to follow me.
NPR, consistently considered by experts to be one of the most neutral media outlets, is the national news organization I respect most and I couldn’t be happier to join its network.
My move has nothing to do with the current economic situation and its impact on the newspaper industry, as furloughs and layoffs have regularly been announced across the company that owns the A-J. In fact, I accepted the job in the middle of March before a hiring freeze at Texas Tech. It was affected, though, by what this business could look like on the other side of the current crisis, one of many local news has faced in recent years.
I feel lucky that I’m ending this part of my career on my own terms, a luxury many journalists, including some I’ve had the pleasure of working with at the A-J, do not have.
I came on as the business reporter, but have had the opportunity to cover a variety of topics across news beats. My first story as a full-time reporter was about Evie Mae’s being named a top barbecue joint in Texas. My last is a feature in the upcoming special section commemorating the 50th anniversary of the May 11, 1970 tornado.
I’ve reported breaking news, from the on-campus shooting in October 2017 to the “celebrations” on Broadway following Texas Tech Men’s Basketball’s advancement to the big game in April 2019. Getting to be a small part of Lubbock’s history are experiences I won’t forget - especially the smell of those Lime scooters on fire, a metallic odor I’m reminded of every time someone jets by me on one.
Working at my hometown newspaper has been an honor. Seeing my byline on the front page or an article I wrote framed and hung in a business will never get old. Those are just some of the things about print journalism that can’t be substituted.
Please support the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. I will. This small but mighty newsroom will continue to provide essential information to our community. Consider me a lifelong subscriber. My morning ritual of reading the e-edition with my first cup of coffee will now mean a little more to me.