With every keystroke made during the typing of this column, the Daily Light team moves closer to year two and farther from year one of our new identity.
One-year and change has passed since Scott Brooks and Neal White decided to take a chance and bring this 20-something on board. The journey began with the latter's resignation, which moved my desk from a cubicle to front and center.
It was just the first of many obstacles that our new team, some who have been here for much longer than others, had to learn to maneuver around and come out better on the other side. From Scott Dorsett's tragic accident last August to the final press run of the beast in the back, we have adapted.
We have resized, regrouped, restructured and repeated. The truth is, the media industry as a whole is undergoing change and the Waxahachie Daily Light is no different.
Over the last year, I have learned things about my hometown and hometown newspaper that I never imagined possible. This place I called home for the first 18 years of my life still holds so many cherished memories — some will make my parents sheepishly grin while others, hopefully, smile with pride. For instance, I can easily recall a group of unnamed football players once attempting to turn a water fountain in Ennis green before the Battle of 287 or some lifelong friends who took a couple thousand people to Round Rock in search of an elusive state baseball title. There were years spent at the ag barn, Hilltop Lanes, Optimist Park and a downtown flower shop that I have shared stories with to anyone who would listen.
But, even with all of the history that I thought I knew or have learned while arguing with members of the 1988 Waxahachie Indian baseball team (the less talented but old...more distinguished of the '88 vs. '08 argument), this town and our readers teach me more and more every day.
Each day we walk into the office at 200 W. Marvin, we walk into an extension of our home or hometown. Our 12-member team works tirelessly to rebuild relationships, restore trust and relay imperative information to you, our readers and supporters, across our many media platforms.
We hear your concerns and displeasures, such as when Miss Mattie Borders pulled Scott Dorsett and me aside to voice her disdain with the relocation of the obituary page during her 104th birthday celebration. Miss Mattie, I can't wait to hear what you have to say in a couple of weeks at your 105th party.
We also understand your frustrations, each one of them, regarding some of the changes we have made. The entire newsroom sits on pins and needles every time Robin answers the front-desk phone and begins to explain those changes as she pulls up the account without having to ask for an address, last name or credit card number — as most of our readers were her friends even before becoming subscribers.
With each Facebook comment that informs us of how news should be free or that there are "other ways to find the story," we figuratively (sometimes actually) beat our foreheads against the desk.
Though a corporate company technically owns the Daily Light name and building, we are every bit a community business —much the same as those we enjoy highlighting in our paper, business journal or online.
Our team is aware that this town, as well as Ellis County, was built on the church, local business, history and athletic accomplishments. We still live and die with each pitch, pass, volley or stride made by our local athletes. Just as we celebrate those businesses that celebrate anniversaries or watch as a longtime resident follows her dreams and opens the doors of a new antique shop.
The truth is, even after a century and a half serving the county, we are still learning.
We are still mastering how to adjust to an ever-changing media platform while refusing to relinquish our brand as a community newspaper. We continue to hold those in power accountable and hope that we have begun to restore faith in that aspect of our reporting. We take pride in capturing moments of joy through the lens of a camera or giving a local leader, business owner or resident the platform to enact change.
In all honesty, there is nothing more rewarding for a community journalist than when we can help a member of our community — just like when we followed up with hometown veteran Tony Doshier a couple of months after running a feature that requested for community members to go get tested to see if they could be a potential match. Doshier will soon receive a much-needed kidney transplant from a former classmate.
But, along the way, we also make mistakes. Just know that Andrew, Marcus, Chelsea and I will own up to those, apologize (a lot) and learn (quickly).
Also know that if Sharon, Tobi, Michelle or David call about a new sponsorship or advertisement opportunity, realize that they also want to know about you and your business. Don't be surprised if one of them asks about your kids, Sunday's church service or plans for traveling to Friday's Indian football game.
We invite you to call, tweet, email or come into the office to visit with us. While we do our best to chase stories and leads, the only way for us to stand as the true heartbeat and watchdog of the community is for us to continually strengthen our presence and the trust in this community.
We will get there and are well on our way. That much I have learned in the first year.
Lastly, thank you for allowing us into your homes, lives and hearts for the last 150 years. Here's to the next century and a half.
Travis M. Smith is the managing editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light and Midlothian Mirror. He can be reached by phone at (469) 517-1470, email at email@example.com or across social media platforms @Travis5mith.