Carolyn Murray

Dear Reader: Don’t mourn ‘the way we were,’ look to the future

For many in our area, the past few weeks brought record rainfalls, mud and heartbreak.

In the newsroom, it also served to remind us that what we do is important. The coverage of our team kept readers up-to-date on life-saving information, the stories of the real people trudging through water and aboard boats to escape the rising waters, and high-utility information on what to do as the waters recede and victims begin to rebuild their homes and their lives.

The flood waters hampered delivery of the print editions, and early deadlines meant more focus for readers and for our team on the online tools now available including text alerts, Facebook posts, Twitter and the constant updates of new developments. Visual journalists Janet Blackmon Morgan and Jason Lee were also able to use video to take viewers inside these homes as homeowners returned; of-the-moment storytelling that wasn’t possible even a few years ago.

In other words, our journalists distinguished themselves, trudging through rising waters and touring neighborhoods by boat to keep you informed.

As I leave The Sun News, which has been my news home for 15 years, for new adventures in retirement, I am both proud of this work, and sad to no longer be a part of something so important to this area’s civic life and community involvement.

Those who have been playing taps for newspapers need to pay heed. Such coverage is not something that can be duplicated without a staff of journalists who know how to gather information and present it to readers in a way that tells the story and reinforces our credibility as a news source. It doesn’t matter how the information is relayed, the key is the professionalism of the news team that delivers it to you. Please remember that delivering such journalism isn’t free. It comes with a lot of hard work, dedication and courage.

As the Colorado Press Association noted in a post that has made Facebook rounds among journalists: “Saying ‘I don’t need newspapers, I get my news from the internet,’” is the same as saying, “I know, right. I don’t need farmers; I get my food from the supermarket.”

New names, faces

Careful readers will have noticed a new name in the list that accompanies this column: Audrey Hudson. She was literally tossed in the deep end, joining our staff at the same time the water started rising. So she began reporting from her home, on the Waccamaw River. Here is the 411 on Audrey and others who have joined, or will soon join, the team.

Audrey Hudson is an award-winning investigative reporter with 30 years of journalism experience who also is skilled in online and social media. She spent a decade as the national reporter for The Washington Times covering Congress, the Supreme Court, Homeland Security and other agencies in D.C. She recently moved to Conway and wants to get back in the daily news business. She’ll be tackling the new “Growth” beat, which includes a focus on transportation, real estate, new businesses and how growth affects residents and tourists. She’ll also produce investigative stories.

Emily Weaver is a go-getter with a passion for journalism that shows in her hustle: She regularly produces a mix of great content from quick blurbs to in-depth enterprise stories for the Hendersonville Times-News in North Carolina and is skilled in social media. She has a decade of experience in journalism, including a stint as the editor of The Kings Mountain Herald in North Carolina where she developed and grew the newspaper’s first Twitter and Facebook feeds and customized and maintained its first website. She’ll own the “Coastal Life” beat, finding and telling stories of living along the coast, the environment, tourism and covering Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach governments. Her first day will be Oct. 20.

Joe Hughes, a Winthrop grad who has several years of experience designing and reporting on many topics joined us Wednesday. He spent time covering high schools for The Rock Hill Herald, and since 2007 he has covered sports and features assignments, designed sections and produced video for the Gaffney Ledger.

Jason Orning, who has worked at ESPN and most recently served as an assistant Sports Information Director for Western Kentucky, joined the desk on Monday. He’ll be responsible for much of the editing and news design for the daily paper, and help manage our online offerings in the evenings.

Don’t panic

This is my last column, so I won’t be reminding you again of changes coming to puzzles and comics. First up, on Monday, the popular weekday comic “Stone Soup” will be replaced by “Phoebe and her Unicorn” because the creator of “Stone Soup” is now going to be producing a Sunday-only comic.

And please mark your calendar so you remember that the look of the puzzle page will change on Nov. 9 with the addition of some new puzzles and rearrangement of some other content.

We haven’t taken anything away, it is just in a different spot to allow us to beef up the content for you puzzle lovers (and I’m looking forward to being one of you).

Finally, I offer my thanks to you for reading our news products, and for not being shy in letting us know when we failed to live up to your expectations.

I am confident I am leaving you with a team that will continue to increase the sophistication of the coverage, in print and online. Be kind to them. Rather than channeling Barbra Streisand and bemoaning the “Way We Were,” think instead of The Carpenters: “We’ve Only Just Begun.”

The Sun News storm team

Leader: Dawn Bryant

Staff reporters: Claire Byun; Audrey Hudson; Charles Perry; Elizabeth Townsend; Steve Palisin

Visual journalists: Janet Blackmon Morgan; Jason Lee

Online leader: Todd Garvin

Design/copy desk and nightside digital team: Angela Robertson; Jeff Nowak; David Wetzel;

Guest stars: reporter Jonathan McFadden, visual journalist Chris Record from The Charlotte Observer