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Phillips: My last hurrah?

Posted: September 29, 2015 5:39 p.m.
Updated: September 30, 2015 1:00 a.m.

As I have written about a couple of times here, especially last week, I have been promoted to the position of editor for The Country Chronicle, the weekly newspaper covering Blythewood and the surrounding area in northern Richland County. 

The Country Chronicle is part of our company, so while I am changing positions and duties, I am not completely changing jobs. In fact, a lot of my work will be done here in Camden at the Chronicle-Independent office and I will travel to Blythewood as needed to cover town council meetings and other news events which come along.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a reporter and then assistant editor for the Chronicle-Independent. It’s a good newspaper in a good town and I have had many good co-workers and news sources while working here. That is my only regret with this new chapter in my career: I won’t be working as closely with the people I have come to know in Camden and Kershaw County.

I will continue writing a weekly column, but it will be for The Country Chronicle rather than the Chronicle-Independent. As I have written before, sometimes these columns come very easily, while other times I have to ponder on what to write about. Many times I have started a column only to have it take a different direction than when I started it.

I am a big believer in telling the truth in my news stories without injecting any of my own thoughts or opinions. That is how I was taught to write news and it’s a very good rule to follow. A reporter has to be especially careful about that, and personal feelings can find their way into a story with the writer not even realizing it. The basic rule is can anyone, even one person, dispute what you’re saying? Some people may try to dispute facts and if they are true facts, the reporter has done his job. However, if he or she writes an opinion in a news story and someone else can have an opposite opinion, the reporter has messed up. That is the real test.

But in an editorial column, just about anything is fair game, within reason, of course. A column is just the writer’s opinion. That’s obvious when you read the columns of Kathleen Parker, Phil Noble and several others who contribute their thoughts to the Chronicle-Independent. Even when I disagree with what they write, I respect their right to have opinions and I appreciate how they generally present their reasoning to explain why they think a certain way.

Every community is different and unique in its own way, and I’m glad this company realizes this and doesn’t try a “one-size-fits-all” approach to our newspapers. Camden has many similarities to Blythewood, but they are not identical and the newspapers serving those communities also should not be identical. The communities have their own personalities and quirks and the local news media should reflect this. The management of this company knows this, thank goodness.

The regular news assignments I have covered will now be divided between other members of the Chronicle-Independent news staff, most notably Editor Martin Cahn and Senior Staff Writer Jim Tatum. Both are seasoned, well-respected journalists and I feel good knowing my news “beats” will be in good hands.

So, as I ride off into the sunset, I do so with pride in what I’m leaving behind and in what I am headed to. There’s a wee bit of apprehension as I take the reins of The Country Chronicle, since it’s a new challenge for me, but I have held similar jobs several times before and I know this will work out fine. But even though I’m moving on, remember what The Spinners sang so well … “I’ll Be Around.”

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