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Carl Hearing: Newspaper career was an honor
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I am amazed at what one can learn over the course of a career. In my case, a newspaper career of more than 41 years - the last 26 years in Monroe.

Many people have taught me so much - some good, some not so good. Then there are things that I've learned by just observing newspaper people at work.

Small newspapers are a gift to the communities they serve, and in Monroe, having the smallest daily newspaper in the state of Wisconsin is truly remarkable. The best gifts to our readers are the people who work for your newspaper.

The people who work at small newspapers live right here: They are your neighbors and friends. Many even grew up here. Now they shop here, their kids go to school here, they go to church here and they even die here.

You won't find people more dedicated to their profession, even though they will never be rich financially by doing their job. They will be rich with the experiences they have by being part of the fabric that makes up a small town. They put in long hours and rarely, if ever, complain.

They visit advertisers early in the morning or late in the evening and they report on those football games on Friday night while you are watching or at a local fish fry just so you can get all the details and statistics the next day. I have such respect for the people who work here and their drive for excellence. I hope all of them realize they mean a great deal to me.

They try to improve the news product with each issue. They hear about better ways to produce your newspaper, whether it is new computer software, or using the web to produce a better website or better photography, or sending pages electronically to a printing plant nearly 40 miles away. Most are willing and even eager to give new technology a try and use social media to benefit our readers.

Old dogs, like me, can be stubborn. Facebook postings and comments have gotten me into trouble more than once. When it comes to Pinterest and Instagram, just don't go there.

The people who work at your newspaper have the best interest of the newspaper and community at heart. They want to see both succeed and flourish and they are willing to put the extra effort into making that happen. They are your booster club. They offer balanced reporting on how things are going at City Hall or the county supervisor meeting. They tell the bad with the good. They believe in your community, because it's a good place to work and live.

They are courageous and daring. When the difficult story comes along, and they certainly do, they have the responsibility of reflecting what has happened even if it points out something ugly. They are not afraid to tell the truth and they do that so their community and its people become stronger. They aren't aspiring to work for the New York Times or the Washington Post, although some who started their career here have gone on to bigger papers.

The people working here want to be able to make a positive difference right where they are, right now.

Your newspaper staff is like family. They know each other's children, they know when there are good things going for one another and they feel the pain when someone is hurting. They care for one another.

In my career at The Monroe Times and in the industry, I have learned there are thousands of stories still untold. We may not get to all of them, but it won't be from a lack of trying. I've also learned that you can make some close friends in a small community and some vocal enemies. Few of our friends will be friends forever - I am glad to say I still have a couple of my closest friends and confidants.

I always said if we hadn't made at least half of our readers angry with something we published, that we probably were not doing our job. Let's just say that we agree to disagree and bury the hatchet.

And now, because of change, I have moved on from my position as general manager of Monroe Publishing. I am not sure what new career I will pursue, but I know it will not be in newspapers. The stress of bearing the responsibilities I shouldered had ill effects on me and my family. I regret that. Maybe I will be lucky and find some small business I can mentor with what knowledge I have to offer.

Remember that small newspapers are the lifeblood of your community. We work to get all the facts correct and all the names right. Sometimes we get it wrong, but it is never with malice.

I feel honored to have worked at Monroe Publishing, and blessed to have worked with the many people who have accompanied me on this journey.

- Carl Hearing's last day at the Monroe Times was Jan. 31, 2017. He had been with the local business for 26 years.