Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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June 28, 2014

22 years – and they said it wouldn’t last

Athens — I was a high school senior when I first entered the world of newspapers.

I found my way to the The Dallas Times Herald after graduation, when a number of kids I went to school with were working part-time at the paper.

It was summer, and I needed a job. I first applied for what was referred to as the night crew.

Made up of mostly young people, the night crew would call people at night to renew their subscriptions or classified ads that had expired. Not thrilling, but a job.

Little did I know I would find my niche in this world.

When I applied, they were looking for people who could type decently, and possibly learn about computers.

The Herald was just reaching into the computer age. I am not talking about Iphones or Ipads. These were basic computers. The Herald first used a scanner-type computer. You would type your copy, and run it through a scanner that would make a dot pattern. That's about all I know about how that computer worked.

I was hired full-time to work in the classified advertising department. My tenure at the Herald lasted 19 years.

In 1991, my world crashed. The Dallas Morning News bought the Herald, and closed the doors. I heard the news like everyone else – on the television.  The Dallas Times Herald, the city's oldest daily newspaper, ceased publication on Dec. 9, 1991.

Fast forward to June 1992. The Cedar Creek Pilot has a small classified ad looking for a part-time salesperson.

I was told, “Don't go to work for another newspaper. The industry is falling apart.”

The majority of people believe newspapers are a thing of the past. (All I have to say is, “The newspaper industry has kept me in a job for many years.”  I will put my faith in what I know and believe. Newspapers will be here long after I am gone.)

Not knowing what I was going to do, how I could sell ads? The part-time job I thought I was applying for turned out to be more than 40 hours per week.

I was hired by former Athens Review Publisher Dan Youngman.  The Review and Pilot were sister papers.  I won't hold it against Dan for lying about the hours. He was a great boss and my friend.

In all the years I worked for the Herald, I never worked as hard as I did for the Pilot. The first week, I told Jackie, my husband,   “I don't think I will last long at this job.”  I went home from work physically and mentally-exhausted. 

At the Herald, all I had to do was sell ads.  As it turned out, I was good at selling.

The Herald had people who designed the ads, billed the ads, laid out the paper and everything in-between. My only job was selling. 

When I started my job at the Pilot, I had to do everything. This was long before the high-tech paper we are today.

I knew in my heart this was just a stopping place until something better came along.

My responsibilities at the Pilot and Review changed drastically throughout the years. I will admit, I learned more at the Pilot in one year, than the entire 19 years I worked for the Herald. That could have been because I had to do everything.

 I started as a salesperson, then became the advertising director for the Pilot. I spent four years as advertising director for the Review. Then I was the general manager of the Pilot when the decision was made to combine the two papers.

My current position is staff writer for the Athens Daily Review. Of all the positions I have had, this may possibly be my favorite. It is also the one where I am so out of my comfort zone.

I have made some lifelong friends working for these papers. It’s not only the employees I have seen come through these doors. It’s the people I have met while working for the paper. They have been amazing.

In the advertising department, I met mostly business owners. In the editorial department you meet everyone. I have met and written stories about people I would never have had the opportunity to know while  selling ads. I have the best of both worlds.

 Throughout the years, the changes in the industry have been massive. Technology has changed,  and so has the newspaper industry.   Change comes with progress. It started with the Internet. Now we have  social media.

I still want to believe people like to sit in the morning with their coffee and read a newspaper.  I hear differently, but I know the feeling of relaxing with your morning joe and the paper. 

If you really want to know if people read the paper, make an error.  That is a sure way to find out just how many people read the local paper.

Recently I ran a wrong name under a picture in the paper.  This was a local doctor that I see almost every week. He attends a meeting I cover for the paper.  I know his name. Just one of those brain freezes. He was very nice the day he called to bring the error to my attention. 

What he said to me was more important than the error I had made. He said,  “I can't ask for better advertising. I had more calls asking if I had changed my name.” It may not have made me look good, but it said something about who is reading the local paper.

Sunday will mark 22 years since I started my journey with the Cedar Creek Pilot and Athens Daily Review. And they said it wouldn't last.

Kathi Nailling is a Staff Writer for the Athens Daily Review.


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