Writing this column is taking the first step through a door I never thought I’d walk through again.
I have been a local journalist along the Emerald Coast for close to 20 years now. During that time, I have worked at or been involved with just about every newspaper in the region. Except this one.
I started as a reporter at The Destin Log back in 2004. Since that time, I have held several reporter and editor positions at the Northwest Florida Daily News and its weekly publications, Santa Rosa’s Press Gazette, the Crestview News Bulletin, The Walton Sun and The Log, and I had been a weekend editor for both the Pensacola News Journal and the Panama City News Herald.
At the beginning of this year, I was promoted to managing editor of the Northwest Florida Daily News. Unfortunately, my position, along with several others locally and many, many more nationwide, were eliminated in August of this year.
When that happened, I figured that was the end of my journalism career. My wife and I love it here and don’t have any interest in moving away, so going to a newspaper outside of the area was never going to happen.
But then last month, one of those doors started to creak open.
In November, my wife, who is a recruiter for a local firm, was at a job fair for her company. While there, she heard about someone who was looking for an editor. That’s when she met Sandi Kemp, who founded the Navarre Press in 2000. Sandi has built a reputation as someone who is dedicated to strong community journalism.
It turns out Sandi had been trying to get in touch with me since August. On a related note, I learned I need to do a much better job of keeping an eye on my LinkedIn messages.
Sandi and I eventually met, and we have a lot of the same ideals when it comes to community. An informed community is absolutely vital to a healthy community. Journalists play an important role in making sure political leaders at every level are making decisions with the public’s best interests in mind.
I am very proud to be the new editor of the Navarre Press. While this is my first time working at the paper, it’s not my first time covering the community. I was the Santa Rosa County reporter for the Northwest Florida Daily News for a couple of years in the mid-2000s, and a lot my time was focused on the Navarre community.
I am really looking forward to getting plugged into the community once again. I’ve missed it here.
To do that, I need to hear from you. Whether you have a story idea, an upcoming event or just want to say hi, I’m always available and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dusty Ricketts, editor of Navarre Press