By SUSAN TEBBEN
Glasgow Daily Times
Only the best lessons in life are learned when you don’t know you need to learn the lesson.
That’s what I learned as the cops and courts reporter for the Glasgow Daily Times.
Starting out as a 22-year-old, fresh-out-of-college reporter was a challenge, that luckily the Daily Times was willing to take on. I came here because they were willing to teach, but the editors and veteran reporters – much as they have helped me along the way – were not the ones that taught me the most.
It was you, Glasgow.
I learned that you are a tight-knit community that likes to celebrate their wins together and huddle together when something bad happens. For all the struggles, the town has remained largely the same throughout my almost three years here.
For a little while, you took in an Ohioan who put sugar in her cornbread. Who was far away from home with a lot to learn about what she was meant to do in life. You showed her the ropes of Southern life (finally mastered my chicken and dumplings recipe and took on that rural twang), took her through the winding roads that only lead to more cows and brought along with it challenges that made her a better writer.
At times, I know, I’ve given you reason to question my sanity. Believe me, I’ve questioned my own sanity while recuperating from a roller derby injury, sitting in the middle of a marijuana grow with the Kentucky State Police, feeling the mid-air stall of a tiny two-seater plane, emerging from a wild and claustrophobic six-hour tour of Mammoth Cave and munching on a few forkfuls of haggis. If I could have possessed thought as the Taser shocks sent my body into fits, I would have thought I was messed up then, too.
I’ve made some of you angry with some of my work, I know that for a fact as well. But the stories I have written have been filled with pride in my work. They will remain some of the hardest, most gratifying pieces of my career, I am certain.
It is not only because I got my start in Glasgow covering some of the most unexpected occurrences in government and small-town law enforcement, but because I never dreamed as a starry-eyed kid that those would be the subjects of my writing.
I hope I have produced some motivation for the community to change through the facts I documented and so doggedly pursued in the name of informing the public where and for what the taxpayer dollars are being used.
I hope through my work and the work of my fellow reporters who remain at the Daily Times, there comes an inspiration for the public to want to know more about who they elected and what’s going with the local authority holders. They speak and campaign on the urge to hear from citizens what is wanted from public officials. It’s only fair they get to hear it.
In my time as a faithful reporter for the GDT, I learned that there are things that the public might need to know that some might not be happy to put out in the open. For me, these were the most important things to show the public about your community. I leave here proud of every question I asked and every single public records request I filed.
As I leave with all the memories and good times in Glasgow, I want the questions to continue and the transparency to increase within our tight-knit community. It might be a small town, but there are big things going on.
Consider it a call to arms, Glaswegians: Stand up and pay attention to your community and the things happening in it.
I am grateful that the good people with great stories and the people whose jobs I made more difficult – or just annoying – could change my perspective of journalism and the world.
I may be in another place, but I’ll still be keeping an eye on the happenings in the place I have called home.
Susan Tebben is a former reporter with the Glasgow Daily Times. She starts her new job with the Youngstown Vindicator on Monday. Her future work can be viewed at www.vindy.com.