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Leaving a place is difficult because of the individuals

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Managing Editor

Here is the truth about leaving a job.
You don’t really miss the actual work per se, which more times than not can be stressful and tedious, or the long hours that keep you away from your loved ones. No, what makes leaving a particular place so difficult, even when it is for a better career or financial opportunity, is the people you worked with.
At the end of the day, work is work. If you are a driven individual then you will find your work rewarding on some level regardless of what title you possess or what location you work in. The factor that makes work truly enjoyable is the people you are fortunate enough to work alongside with.
That is what makes leaving a place so hard, and that is what made it difficult for me when I made the decision to say goodbye to The Ville Platte Gazette.
For those readers who haven’t yet heard, this will be my final column appearing in The Gazette and the final edition with me serving as the Managing Editor of the newspaper I have called home for nearly two years.
In a few days, I will start another new adventure as I will be joining The Daily Iberian in New Iberia as its new Managing Editor.
My reason for leaving The Gazette is a personal one but I can assure you that the reason is one my boss David Ortego fully understood as did Associate Editor Elizabeth West. Even though both were disappointed that I was leaving, both fully supported my decision to leave and that means far more than people realize.
In the past two years, many a reader or person in the community has commented to me or my staff on just how much they have enjoyed what we have done with the newspaper. The praise, which is humbling to hear, has been about the redesign that was implemented in the summer of 2015, the emphasis on human interest profiles on people throughout the community, or the hard-hitting breaking news stories dealing with corruption or murder trials.
The biggest compliment that we have received is that The Gazette “looks like a real newspaper.” Hearing that was far more satisfying than the awards we have won as a staff in the past two years. Knowing that you helped produce a product that makes people proud to buy is one of the best feelings you will feel as a professional.
Now don’t get me wrong, we have by no stretch of the imagination been perfect over the past two years. We have had our fair share of embarrassing mistakes or flubs, but we have always owned those errors, apologized for them and have learned from them pretty quickly.
All of the success The Ville Platte Gazette has experienced in the past two years though would not have been accomplished were it not for the efforts of the people that I have been privileged to call my co-workers during that time.
Yes, my name may appear in the paper far more than their’s does but I couldn’t have done my job without them, and our newspaper would not be what it is today without them.
For example, take Becky Nelson. Now Becky spends her days handling selling ads for the paper but did you know besides her ability to make us laugh on a daily basis (sometimes intentionally, sometimes not) she has also chipped in and proofread section after section, helping us avoid having errors in the paper?
Advertising Manager Kathy Longino has spent many a day proofing pages as well, but Kathy also brainstorms about covers for special editions, gives the editorial staff tips on possible stories and is always good for a fun but sassy exchange of words, of which I have received plenty. Or if she is in no mood for my shenanigans I get that “Kathy Glare.”
Beth Devillier meanwhile holds down not one but two jobs as our secretary & circulation director and yet still finds time to help out by taking down messages from people and track us down when we are out of the office. Not to mention, her humor (sharp as a tack mind you) usually helps ease things during a tense day inside the office. If it is a rough day in the office, Beth seems to bring laughter into the room on cue.
Jeaneane Miller meanwhile holds down the accounting department (which makes sure we have a product to give to the people), but she also is instrumental in helping us out in editorial when it comes down to tracking down people or giving us background information on someone that we may not be familiar with. Plus, she is seemingly the only person in the entire office that can fix the copier-fax machine which makes her irreplaceable really.
You can’t forget Monique Ardoin and Lea Campbell. Those two are responsible for making sure all the ads are right and ready to be placed on pages, and to be honest with you their skills are far greater than the jobs they currently have. Plus, Monique is simply a hoot (especially when she tells stories) despite being a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan, and Lea is one of the best technical support people that I have ever worked with -- and that’s not even her job.
Then there is Sports Editor Tracey Jagneaux who may be the nicest person I have ever worked with in 17 years in this business. Tracey was also one of the easiest people I ever trained as well, as he had to learn how to lay out pages, take and tone photos and even post stories to the website. Even when technology tried to defeat him he would prevail.
There is also Tony Marks who is officially leaving his longtime job working at the Clerk of Court’s Office to pursue his dream of a journalism career. Tony is as nice as they come but also one of the most humble folks you will meet. Tony has a lot to learn about the business, as expected for anyone going from being a freelance reporter to full-time editor would face, but he wants to learn and get better. Those qualities are going to make Tony a great addition to this paper.
So what about the boss man?
The first thing about David is that he has one hell of a sense of humor and is a great storyteller, and trust me he has dozens of hilarious stories to share if you are lucky enough to have him share them with you as I have. You can go into his office to ask one question and stay in there for an hour and half and have no idea how much time has flown by.
The other thing that I loved working for David was that he was enthusiastic about what we as an editorial staff were trying to do. He saw the vision, and not only did he support it but he pushed us to continue to keep producing a quality newspaper. He also had the faith in my potential to run a newsroom, when my only previous experience consisted of running a sports department.
That faith never wavered and I am grateful to him for that, and I am proud to call him a colleague and a friend.
Last but not least there is Elizabeth West, who I am proud to say is taking over my position. Elizabeth is by far the best hire I have ever made in my career. David and I hired her as a staff reporter around this same time two years ago and it became evident within two weeks that she possessed the talent, drive and personality to succeed in this business.
All of the success this paper has had in the past two years, and even the awards I have won, have a lot to do with Elizabeth. With her work ethic and zeal for local news (if I would allow her to she would stay camped out at the courthouse or police station all week), Elizabeth has made me a better reporter, better editor and a better boss.
Elizabeth cares about her community more than anyone else I have worked with (as shown in her work or by the dozens of conversations we have had on school board nights), and don’t let her polite demeanor fool you, the girl is a firecracker.
Elizabeth’s knowledge and skill at this point in her young career is light years ahead of what mine was at that same time. I say without any hesitation that her best work is yet to come, that she is going to do some tremendous things in the future, and the fine readers of The Gazette will be the ones rewarded by that.
Like I said before, leaving the job is not the hard part. Leaving the people is, and the people I have mentioned above has made working here a true privilege.
To those people I say thank you.

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