In the business I keep, you do your best to avoid cliches, but here I am, contributing to one, building on one, confirming one.
I am replacing a legend. It’s something “you don’t want to” do I’ve heard over and over. And over.
And it’s something I can retort that I was a witness to someone replacing a legend and it worked out for the second guy pretty well. That’s what all those Packers’ fans told me anyway after February after finally being convinced the guy on the right is pretty much as good as the guy on the left.
There are differences between the two situations. Replacing a 41-year legendary journalism veteran who not only grew up in town, but showed no malice toward any sports program but rather took some time to get to know each new game is not anything to take lightly. He’s someone, if anything, was on the cutting edge of the start of covering girls sports not just here, but state-wide.
It’s not an enviable position, to say the least.
The good news is that I’m not stepping out fresh out of college. I think that’s what appealed to those who decided to hire me. For 10 years, I’ve covered sports full-time – OK, give or take two months. For those 10 years, I’ve come away with all sorts of different philosophies on the big things like covering a state tournament team or what’s the right time to write a particular story. There’s the little things like some of the so-called furniture on a page layout or how to handle breakout boxes or even the dreaded agate.
It seems as though there are many who expect changes. They expect me to do things my way. And I will.
But when you’ve got roughly 60 years of previous sports editing experience sitting in the community, I must adhere to what was done before me.
When I was still a student at Central Michigan, and perhaps more so when I was working at the Tuscola County Advertiser, I preached and preached about not only knowing the roots of the publication and knowing its life, but honoring and respecting that particular newspaper’s life. Whoever works at an institution leaves behind a legacy. It happens in the public sector with the first three estates – legislature, executives and judiciary. The same holds true for the fourth estate — the media.
I left a small impact on my time at Central Michigan LIFE. The impact I had at The Advertiser can still be seen today, just looking at some of the things the newspaper continues to use that were created or used on my watch (such as this). My legacy at the Chippewa Herald is a little more subtle and it’s more in the use of helmets (again), logos (again) but also the integration of Facebook and Twitter.
I left a little more behind in Chippewa Falls than those things, though. My wind-down there allowed me teach a few more pointers before I left.
And I received a month’s worth of lessons from the legend. I may not get direction every day from him. He may think that while he’s around, he’s going to be a resource – something I hope I can move the working relationship past. Besides, with all of the back issues and bound editions, that’s the legacy and the resource I’ll be using the most.
That’s just like my previous two stops in this career I’ve chosen.
Do I want to replace a legend? Yes. And I’m ready.