YOAKUM: Thanks for all the memories, Dowagiac

Like so many others who embark on a new career, in a new community, I had no idea what to expect after I accepted the responsibility of community editor of the Dowagiac Daily News in November 2013.

I was only a few months removed from graduating college when I received a call from one of my classmates, Ambrosia, who told me that Leader Publications was looking for someone to helm the reporting duties for the Daily News, following the departure of local stalwart John Eby. Without any real expectations — and looking for any reason to escape from my job at the time — I decided to apply for the position.

To my surprise, not only did I land an interview, but I got a call a few days later from the publisher, who offered me the job.

While I grew up less than 30 miles away, in St. Joseph (and memorized how to pronounce “Dowagiac” BEFORE arriving in town), I was not sure how The Grand Old City would greet me, especially as I had some gigantic shoes to fill.

Over the past four years, I can safely say I have met some of the kindest, smartest and most diligent people you will find anywhere on earth. Dowagiac has truly become my home, and I’ve absolutely loved every minute of my job, chronicling the life and times of my many wonderful neighbors.

It is why writing this column has been so difficult for me, as I must say goodbye to the community that I have come to embrace as my own.

I recently accepted the position of managing editor with the Tryon Daily Bulletin, one of Leader’s affiliates within Boone Newspapers located near the North Carolina/South Carolina border. There, I will help lead a small but talented newsroom, who, like I have done in Dowagiac these past several years, are tasked with telling the unique stories that can only be found in Small Town America.

I plan to finish up with The Daily News and Leader Publications this week, and will be making the long trek to my new home in North Carolina this weekend.

While I am excited about taking my career in community news to the next level, it is with a heavy heart that I leave the many wonderful people in Dowagiac, Niles and other local communities I have gotten to know over the years.

While many in my field dream of covering the political drama in Washington or writing about the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, I truly believe that journalists make the largest impact in hometown newspapers like the Dowagiac Daily News or Niles Daily Star. It has been a privilege for me to work at Leader Publications, and to learn from some of most talented and dedicated people in the entire newspaper business.

I want to thank everyone who has allowed me to bend their ear and share their stories with me these past four years.

No matter where my career takes me, southwest Michigan will always be my home.

Ted Yoakum is the Dowagiac community editor at Leader Publications. He can be reached at (269) 588-1040 or at ted.yoakum@leaderpub.com.

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