Elsewhere in this week's Arkansas Times, an article notes a change in leadership.
I'm stepping down as editor, a job I've held since the Times became a weekly the first week of May 1992. Lindsey Millar, who's overseen feature coverage (and much more), will be taking over.
This completes a transition that began last summer, when I told the editorial staff that I'd be giving up this job in a year. The date was mostly arbitrary, the traditional start of state government's fiscal year and not long after my 61st birthday. The change falls four weeks shy of 1,000 issues of the Times with me as editor, but what difference would round numbers make?
I had an opportunity last summer to spend a lot of time in thought. My daughter was hospitalized in New York with a dangerous infection. I passed the slow, nervous hours in the NYU med center ICU doing my editing duties from afar, by computer and my first-ever cell phone (an iPhone that instantly proved its utility).
I decided then, as I contemplated all the life-and-death facts you contemplate in dire health situations, that the time was near for change — for me and the newspaper. The Times has a small staff, but it's rich in talent. Stepping aside seemed a way to open up avenues for others to advance. Change — and new ideas — can be good things.
We are no longer just a weekly newspaper, but a media company with a dynamic website and a growing roster of new features. The redesigned and more useful website and many of the new features — including a growing database of public information and weekly podcasts — are the products of the drive and ingenuity of Lindsey Millar. He is particularly well-suited to respond to the changes upending the old order of news media.
He's an Arkansas native. He has broad interests. He has the same commitment to preserving an alternative voice in Arkansas that brought me to the Times almost 20 years ago. The core of this publication has always been vigorous, progressive commentary and public interest reporting. That is not going to change.
I'm not going anywhere, by the way. I'll continue to write a column. I'll continue to blog seven days a week. I hope to do more original reporting for the Arkansas Blog. Yes, I hope to travel more, without the burden of editing tasks that in the past went undone or were dumped on others.
I didn't just go to work for the Times in December 1991. I invested in it and its mission. A new generation of leadership protects that investment. I've never felt better about the future.