This is an opinion piece.

One of the most treasured newspapers in my collection of them — papers screaming of wars, elections and Alabama national championships ­— is a copy of The Sand Mountain Reporter with a column Ben Shurett wrote when I moved to Monroe, Georgia, in 2009 to become a publisher for the first time.

“Being a newspaper publisher is rewarding and challenging work,” Ben wrote in one of the great understatements that has appeared in all the pages that has come off these presses in 65 years.

I can’t imagine a job quite like this one. There is no better partner in or cheerleader for the community’s success than the local newspaper, but we also fill a role of watchdog. Those seem diametrically opposed, but that’s the beauty of the position. 

The press is the only job enshrined in the First Amendment, and even more than when I began my time as a publisher, we’re under daily attack by cowardly government officials who attempt to discredit us.

Still, it’s a fantastic job and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

A lifetime at The Reporter has prepared my friend Shannon Allen for this new role.

I know no one who would work harder to make this newspaper better, and I’m excited to see what he’s able to do in this position. Albertville, Boaz and the surrounding area are poised for great things, I know Shannon will make sure The Reporter is poised to be a part of that.

You’ll see a newspaper that is responsive to the needs of its readers and advertisers. After all, the words Ben wrote in 2009 remain true: “In addition to working for the greater good, we are also a business and we, like your business, need to have a little money left in our cigar box at the end of the month. That’s harder now.”

And that was before a pandemic.

Patrick Graham has made a fantastic choice in selecting Shannon as the person to take The Reporter to new heights. He’s got a difficult job ahead, but he’s also the very best person to do it.

David Clemons, an Albertville native, is the editor and publisher of The Walton Tribune in Monroe, Georgia. His email address is david.clemons@waltontribune.com.

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