A quick update for anyone interested… 

I’ve been struggling with long-COVID, showing up as a vicious cough. Not constant, but erupting in ferocious spells. My physician told me a lot of patients are experiencing the same thing and it appears to take up to six months for them to feel normal again. Two down, four to go? Ugh… At least the brain fog has diminished.

It wouldn’t be a big deal, but my job is very demanding mentally and requires me to stay sharp, focused and on top of things, especially since I am doubling as the newspaper’s Editor (and have been since February). My most experienced reporter just finished out her notice and is only contributing part-time now while taking on responsibility as an ailing family member’s primary caregiver. I’ve hired a replacement who I think will do well once she’s trained and gets on a routine, but I won’t lie: the pressure on me right now is very intense. I’m trying not to be overwhelmed by stress as I manage multiple production deadlines while also juggling the business end of a newspaper and magazine. Recovering from COVID has made everything much more difficult than it normally would be.

In these instances, we can only do our best.

All in all, I believe I’m managing pretty well. It just means a lot of long nights, staying ahead and remaining organized. If I ever do become unorganized, it makes me far more anxious. I end up needing every bit of the pre-emptive work I’m doing.

It hasn’t left much time for a personal life, much less my side projects in photography and writing. I am turning down freelance gigs left and right because I know I lack the time to do a competent job. If I wasn’t short-staffed right now, I could do a lot more. When I do fill the open positions, I won’t know what to do with all of the freed up time! Probably sleep.

Last weekend was the annual Boom Days Heritage Celebration here in Fort Payne, Alabama. I still haven’t fully caught up on rest from that two-day festival. According to my iWatch, I walked more than four miles on Saturday alone! Got some pretty good photos, though.

Boom Days 2022

Matty Croxton and Paul Crawford perform at Boom Days 2022 during a tribute show to Creedence Clearwater Revival.


Boom Days 2022

The spotlights at Boom Days 2022.


Boom Days 2022

Boom Days? More like the gun show as Joe Nichols flexes on stage.

That’s one of the things I love about this job is getting access to some really cool events and being able to share my creative works with a mass audience. I’ll be doing autumn pictures again real soon, assuming I actually have any time and energy to leave the office.

On that note… what I really need is a good Editor. I’ve spent months now interviewing people and have been less than fully satisfied with the options before me. In several cases, I’ve started to make the hire and learned that the person just accepted another job offer. It’s been an extremely tight job market with little motivation for a lot of folks to work, but this tough economy is starting to turn on the possibility that a recession could happen and trust me, you don’t want to wait and search for a job only after that occurs. I’ve been in that job market and it’s brutal. I’m not rooting for the economy to suck, just being pragmatic about the fact that a labor market heavily favoring job seekers won’t last forever. I’m not sure how people have survived this summer with soaring inflation and so many jobs unfilled.

I guess if anyone reading this knows of a person who is qualified in this field — it requires some page layout skill/experience, good news judgment, the ability to work under deadline pressure and edit the writing of others (qualities that the majority of applicants have lacked) — please encourage them to apply for this position.

Our company offers Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama health insurance, vision and dental coverage, paid sick days and vacation and employer contributions to a retirement account. It’s one of the better compensation packages in the publishing industry, which has faced much disruption in recent years.

Even better, it’s a rare chance to learn everything I know, which is a LOT. And not just about newspapers, but publishing, writing, photography, etc. For the right person, it’s a golden opportunity to get paid to advance their skills and get tear sheets. I know the right person is out there and I just need to find them.

Can’t hurt to put the word out here, right?