If on Feb. 3, 2012, anyone would have walked up to me and said, ďDerrick, one year from now youíre going to be editor at the Bulletin,Ē I would have seriously suggested a psych evaluation.
To be perfectly honest, at this point a year ago being an editor anywhere, much less the Bulletin, had never really crossed by mind. I was perfectly happy being the sports editor and had spent what is now nine years giving my all in an attempt to provide as much coverage of Brownwood, and Brown County, as I could.
Iíd be lying if I said the few comments Iíve received over the years comparing some of my work to my legendary predecessor Bill Stovall didnít make me light up a little bit. While I feel like I am nowhere near his league, I am proud of the fact that most readers seem to respect the sports coverage the Bulletin has attempted to provide for the better part of the last decade.
While I love covering sports, Iíd also be lying if I didnít admit to falling victim to complacency over the years, simply due to the repetitive routine that begins with two-a-days in August and carries through to the state baseball and softball tournaments in June. Weíre three days into February and I could tell you exactly how the 2013 football season will pan out in terms of coverage.
Thatís not necessarily a bad thing, as experience breeds familiarity, and thatís allowed me to develop strong working relationships with most of the high school coaches in the county, especially at Brownwood, Early and Bangs.
Still, sometimes you wonder what else is out there. Never have I given serious thought to leaving the Bulletin since my arrival in Brownwood in June of 2004, as it truly has felt like home for me. My role at the Bulletin was clear, and I had no problems accepting it.
But a fire I wasnít even aware was inside me was lit midway through 2012 as the Bulletinís parent company, American Consolidated Media, began its push toward a 24-7 news cycle. No longer was our objective to simply have the paper finished by 11 p.m., wake up the next day, and follow the same routine all over again. We had been focused on providing one print publication a day, which was leaving our website grossly under-utilized.
The change in me, and at the Bulletin, began when we started publishing stories to the website as soon as they were completed, not at the end of the day before we went home. Then came the Facebook awakening, where sports finals were posted as soon as the games finished. That blossomed into live updates during games, then the news side began updating breaking information when warranted throughout the day.
I once thought the biggest rush in the newspaper business was going full throttle toward a deadline, cramming as much pertinent information into the next dayís edition, and beating that deadline. But once the Bulletin and ACM decided ďthe news is now,Ē I fell in love with a new side of the business.
With sports, summers are slow, so in order to help out with our new strategy, I began volunteering to cover emergencies ó wrecks, fires, so forth and so on. I admit at first, and some of our readers chimed in as well, that the coverage of every fender bender was a tad bit excessive.
Still, the bug had bit me and I had become a breaking news junky. I wanted to be the person that provided Brown County with important, head-turning, mouth-dropping news, and I wanted to do it before anyone else.
Then a Sunday afternoon in July changed my perspective on my career entirely.
I was still chugging along in sports, helping out when I could on the news side, but I wasnít overly confident in my ďnewsĒ abilities. But when the horrific tragedy at the Peach House RV Park occurred, every fiber and instinct in my body told me to jump into action.
Looking back on the situation, some of my choices werenít the wisest. Armed with only my scanner, a cell phone and a camera, I rocketed from south Brownwood past the airport and arrived shortly after the shooting had concluded. Some of the things I witnessed I had never seen before, and hope to never see again, but my only thought was to report the news as it was happening to the Bulletinís Facebook followers. As terrible as that day was, it opened my eyes to what I was capable of in terms of being a reporter.
Then, this past November, longtime editor, friend and mentor Gene Deason decided to retire. Following his departure, I was asked if I would assume the role of ďeditorial lead,Ē which basically consists of most of the editor duties, along with balancing my responsibilities of sports editor.
Just trying to help out in a pinch, I was uncertain what would my role at the Bulletin would be until Thursday when publisher Juliet LeMond informed me of the decision to name me editor. Me, an editor? Not a sports editor, but an editor, editor? It still hasnít sunk in yet, but itís definitely one of the proudest moments of my career. But with that title, to me at least, comes the pressure to make sure the best possible product is being provided to you, the reader.
My sports career, for the most part, will soon be in hibernation as the Bulletin is currently looking for my replacement. Re-reading that sentence still sends shivers down my spine. But until the new sports editor arrives, Iíll continue to pull double duty, and even after the hire Iíll still cover sports from time to time ó thatís my love.
But Iíve developed a new passion, and thatís to provide Bulletin readers with as much information on a daily basis as possible. Whether itís the print edition, the website ó BrownwoodTX.com ó or our Facebook page, when our readers are looking for news, whatever it may be, we will have it.
Derrick Stuckly is the Editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Sundays. He may be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.