OPINION COLUMNS

Remaining in the program; 26 years after mentorship, ready to lead Mess

By Kristen Tribe | Published Saturday, January 12, 2019
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I walked into the Wise County Messenger office for the first time just shy of my 17th birthday.

Kristen Tribe

My high school English teacher had reached out to the paper to set up a mentorship program for me. I, along with my parents and teacher, met with publisher Roy Eaton and then-editor Keith Magee to discuss the program and the expectations of all parties.

For some reason, they decided to take a chance on this awkward, shy kid from Alvord who had a knack for writing.

Twenty-six years later on Dec. 31, Roy announced I would be publisher.

Since then, I’ve been overwhelmed by your kind comments and messages of support. I’m excited about the opportunity and look forward to tackling the challenges.

Roy Eaton, along with various Messenger staff members, taught me everything I know about journalism and the nuances of reporting. My experience here as a teenager put me light years ahead of my Journalism 101 class in college and instilled in me a love for news.

I still have the contract we all signed that kicked off my journalism career. It was typed (on a typewriter) on school letterhead and outlined the responsibilities of all parties.

These were my guidelines:

1. Kristen will be solely responsible for her transportation to and from Decatur.

2. Kristen will be responsible for making up any [school] work that she misses to attend the program.

3. Kristen will be responsible for conducting herself in an adult manner while at the Messenger office.

4. Kristen must meet all obligations to personnel at the Messenger to remain in the program.

I guess you could say I “remained in the program.” Following the first mentorship, Keith offered me a summer job where I was just like any other full-time reporter. Back then I didn’t see Roy often, but I remember the first time he complimented my work. He wandered through the paste-up room, glancing at pages, and when he saw my wreck photo, he said, “great shot.” Roy has always emphasized the importance of breaking news; he lives and breathes it. For me, there was no higher compliment.

I worked in the newsroom a couple of summers, then spread my wings with other internships and part-time jobs while getting my degree. Fast forward to a wedding, my first job out of college and eventually a couple of kids, and I’m back home.

I started writing for the Messenger again in 2008 and have found there’s nothing I love more than telling your stories. I’m proud to celebrate and share your success, but also stand strong by your side when life takes a sad turn.

The emotions of this transition have continued to catch me off guard the last few weeks. This is not a job for the faint-hearted, nor a responsibility I take lightly. I’m proud that Roy – a renowned newsman and community leader – trusts me and knows I’m up for the challenge. We have a stellar staff at the Messenger, and I wouldn’t want to do this day in and day out with any other group.

I’ve changed a lot since I first walked through that door 26 years ago, and so has the news business. But one thing remains the same: the Messenger’s commitment to covering Wise County and keeping you informed.

Kristen Tribe was named publisher of the Wise County Messenger Jan. 1. She succeeds owner Roy Eaton, who remains president of the company and is putting more emphasis on the “retired” portion of his “semi-retired” career.

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