See ya in the funny papers!

Friday was my last day at the Galion Inquirer.

I’m going out on good terms. I’m still friends with those I work with, work for and those I’ve dealt with in the community through the years.

I’ve been doing the “newspaper’ thing for some 35 years.

Hopefully, I’ve made more friends than enemies.

But I’m tired. I’m burned out.

The last six months have been especially stressful.

It’s time for me to do something different. I need to re-charge my batteries.

Andrew Carter, an experienced journalist who has worked in this area for several years, is taking my place as editor.

He will bring a younger, more energetic — and fresh — perspective to readers.

I’m certain readers will approve.

Jodi Myers will continue on as a stringer. She’s a Galion person, a good friend and does a great job. She’s been a blessing to me the last year or so. Without her, I would have left months ago.

And yes, the Inquirer is still looking for a sports correspondent.

Don Tudor, also a Galion native and long-time friend, will continue taking photos. He’s one of the best.

I have mixed feelings about writing this, my last column.

I’m sad to step away. But I am ready to do something else.

I have one request. It’s been on my mind for years. The Inquirer and other local newspapers always tout the idea of Buying Local to help local businesses. In fact, we put out a special section each year that focuses on that adage.

What we’ve never said is that local newspapers also are local businesses.

We too are struggling.

Our owners may not be local, but we are a local business. We relay on local workers, local ad sales, local classifieds and legal ads, and we rely on local readers.

Thanks to the Internet — or because of the Internet — newspaper have had to adapt and change.

We’re still trying to figure out a way to compete in this not-so-new world.

I started working at the Galion Inquirer as a part-timer when I was just out of high school. I started full-time a few years later. I have been a sports reporter, sports editor, news editor and editor. I also designed our pages with paper layout sheets and then cut and pasted-up the newspaper six days each week

In 1995, the Inquirer employed a full-time sports editor, a full-time sports reporter and three or four stringers to cover sporting events. We had a full-time editor, full-time assistant editor, full-time lifestyles reporter, full-time police reporter, full-time Crawford County reporter, one or two reporters who did a bit of everything and a full-time person to read, edit and proof our copy. We had one full-time photographer and two stringers. We had a four- or five-person sales staff, a circulation manager, two full-timers who ran the front desk/reception area and two full-timers designing sales ads. We had three full-timers in the printing department, an owner and a production manager.

As of Friday, I was the only full-timer on the Inquirer editorial staff.

I left Galion in 1999 to work for the News Journal in Mansfield. I was there about 17 years, and left because we were downsizing … over and over again. When I started in Mansfield, our little corner of West Fourth Street had about 230 employers. When I left, we had less than 50. There are even fewer now.

I returned to the Inquirer three years ago and was hired to oversee the Galion, Morrow County and Bellville papers. Most of my time was spent in Galion and Bellville.

At that time, the staff in Galion included a general manager in charge of all three newspapers. I was the editor, we had a full-time news reporter, a full-time sports reporter and a couple of stringers. We did not have a photographer. We took our own photos with cheap cameras or cell phones or hired a stringer to take ‘good’ photos for us. We had a two-person sales staff, two people manned the front desk and reception area and handled phone calls, classified sales, legal ads and more.

The Galion Inquirer office, a staple for more than 100 years, is no more. We work from the office of the Morrow County Sentinel in Mount Gilead.

We have just two print editions. I have been updating our website and Facebook pages around the clock.

Jodi and Don have been more important to me than they realize, as have coaches and parents who have allowed me to use their photos, along with photographers Shelley Clark and Lynne Foust, who has saved my rear end numerous times in recent months.

I appreciate all of you.

Thanks to all I’ve chatted with and made friends with and even butted heads with over the years.

I will miss all of you.

So, say hi if you see me out and about. I don’t hold grudges. I hope you won’t either.

Best wishes to all.

See ya in the funny papers!

Russ Kent no longer works at the Galion Inquirer. You may catch him around town, or friend him on Facebook.

Russ Kent no longer works at the Galion Inquirer. You may catch him around town, or friend him on Facebook.