DWIGHT OTWELL: Thank you for letting me tell your stories
It was the early summer of 1971. Tapping and clattering sounds conveyed the energy of the small, daily newspaper – my first paid job as a journalist.
It was mid-morning, and we were nearing deadline as reporters and editors strung together words using manual typewriters. The United Press International machine tried its best to drown out the raucous newsroom noise as it spat stories from its gut.
Through the newsroom doors and to the right was a narrow space where copy readers tried to unravel and catch the mistakes of the writers. Beyond that were experienced workers in a large open part of the building, at paste-up tables using hot wax to physically arrange the different articles, photos and advertising onto boards.
The presses through another set of doors were in the far reaches of the newspaper plant, ready to send newspaper sections flowing down its conveyor. The news, features, comics, classified advertising and advice columns would be delivered to homes that afternoon.
Forty-eight years later – after working at daily and weekly newspapers as reporter and editor in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina – I am ready to end this rewarding, exasperating, frenzied and wonderful career.
I have been winding down like an old clock, working part time for the last several years. I still love a good story. Crime and courtroom dramas can be very exciting, although sometimes horrific – enough at times that I could barely contain tears.
Feature stories about people are perhaps the best. Sometimes, it has been famous or well-known individuals; but more often, it is common, everyday, people who live uncommon lives.
They are people with a joy and kindness that emanates from within. There are many like folks in Cherokee County. They have made this journalistic journey worthwhile.
I always sought to tell the truth – striving to provide all sides in any situation. I know I have succeeded at times because even when I have written unflatteringly about some people, they still told me I was fair.
I have made mistakes and learned from most of them. I hope to continue to learn and give back to this community.
I thank the Cherokee Scout and all the people who work here, and have worked here for the 10-plus years I have been part of this great newspaper. I started with the Scout several months before we moved into the new, larger, modern building in 2008.
All things end except the love and word of Christ. I am ready for something new, and I am ready to follow whatever God’s will is for the remainder of my life.
Thank you for being a reader.
Dwight Otwell has retired as a longtime staff writer at the Cherokee Scout. He will be missed.