This is not goodbye, it is just farewell.
By Chuck Friend
Sometimes a man has to do what a man has to do.
Even though it may not seem popular or the thing to do.
Even though it hurts.
Even though he didn’t really want to.
But especially so when that man feels directed by God that this is the right time to do it.
It is with those words that I write this last “Thoughts From a Friend” column as publisher and owner of the Record. And it is with mixed emotions that I write my parting thoughts to a community that has given me so much and to those who have supported me throughout the last nine years that I have owned this newspaper.
As you have read on the front page, The Record has been sold to Mid-America Publishing of Hampton. The new owners will take over tomorrow, Nov. 1, 2012.
It was my dream to own this community newspaper — something that I talked about with friends in high school and in my journalism days in college. And I know that it was not just coincidence that when Helen Kopsa decided to sell in 2003, that my name came up just three days after leaving the Times Republican as area reporter.
I know that I came into this publisher’s role very “green.” I made many mistakes in the early years that probably led to my situation today. But I learned so much throughout the years from other publishers and editors, that I was able to successfully achieve one of the goals I was reaching for, at last year’s convention. That being having our newspaper selected as First Place General Excellence among all of the newspapers in Weekly Class 1 (1,300 subscriptions or lower).
However, I also learned that awards do not make a publisher money. Beginning in 2007, we began to struggle. It was then that I began to help supplement the paper with my savings and with loans. In 2008-2011 the bleeding kept up, but I drug my feet and vowed to somehow make it work. I wanted this community to continue to have its own quality newspaper.
I even went to the extremes of writing to philanthropists in the area to ask them to be silent partners to keep it going but not one of them answered the requests. Also, grant money is not available to “for-profit “businesses.
But about two months ago (after kicking and screaming to myself not to let this happen), I was forced to dip into my retirement funds. That is when I began listening to God, rather than myself and knew that the end was near.
Leaving something that a person has done all of his life is very hard, to say the least, and I would be lying if I said that there were no tears shed.
I am really going to miss the fine relationships that I have had with the administration, coaches and staff of the BCLUW school system —not to mention the student athletes, musicians and fine arts performers. I am going to miss the relationships that I have made with people while covering fairs, festivals and community events.
I am going to miss my colleagues that I have had at the Iowa Newspaper Association and at other newspapers across Iowa. I have made many a good friendship that I hope will continue even though I am stepping away. I will also miss the staff that I presently have had, and wish them well as they continue to serve you the readers with the new owners. I even am going to miss the friends that I have made through advertising contacts.
I have covered a variety of stories in the past nine years. Some with controversy, some very light hearted. I have met the president, national entertainers, and a lot of common people with lots of special stories to tell. I have visited a lot of interesting places for the series Destination Iowa, and learned a lot about the state government through a series on the budget.
So I ponder all of these memories with a thankful, but somewhat heavy heart, as I bid farewell. However, I have no plans to leave the community. Mid-America will be renting the building that houses The Record from me. I cannot wait to participate in the facade improvement project and finally be able to upgrade my building as it should be.
And although there has been a “no compete” clause signed and I cannot work for a newspaper in a five-county area or start one against them (which I never had intended to do anyway), I still will be around in the community with a camera and would be willing to take and sell pictures to any parent for their student athlete.
I may also look into submitting photos to magazines as a freelance photographer as well. The new owners have also given me the right to be a school newspaper advisor if the opportunity ever arose somewhere.
As for my long-range plans, they are really uncertain. I feel it will only be a semi-retirement, as I know that I will be able to keep myself busy with things I enjoy and at least a part-time job.
Besides, deep in my heart, I feel that there is something different planned for me, as not only has The Record changed hands, but earlier this year being a Sheltered Reality site leader was also taken out of my life when the Conrad site was closed.
I face the future with a lot of unknowns. But I am a firm believer that when one door closes, another will swing open. Where for The Record it is the End of an Era: The first time this newspaper has not been owned by a family or individual in its 131 year history, for me it is just the end of a chapter of my life.
Bob Hope said it best, “Thanks for the Memories”. These last nine years have been quite a ride.
I hope to be able to keep many of the friendships that I have made. My email (firstname.lastname@example.org) is always available for you to contact me.
So farewell, and we’ll see you in the newspapers!
From a Friend,