Blackburn bids farewell to SMDR
Working for my hometown newspaper is a strange experience. My parents read everything I write. So do my best friends’ moms, and my high school English teachers (hi, Mrs. Buckner!), and my friends and people I go to church with. More than that, as the city/county/school district reporter, I feel responsible for helping the residents of this town I love so much and know so well stay informed. It’s a lot to take on.
All of that is ending on Thursday, though, when I leave the Daily Record. Next week, I will start a new job as a managing editor for a think tank doing work to fight extremism by improving education in Muslim societies and to make policy recommendations for the U.S. government in dealing with Muslim-majority countries. The best thing any worker can hope for is to work with good people for a good cause, and though I feel like I have done that at the Daily Record, I also feel the need for new challenges.
The good news is, I won’t be leaving town. Those of you who want to actually spend time with me picking my brain about recent local matters will be able to do just that. And those of you who dread running into me … well, sorry, but I’m still here.
This job has taught me so much and changed me in ways I didn't think were possible. In the past two years I have learned about white nationalist groups, voting trends, mobile home park management practices, election security, economic development and criminal justice reform. I have flown in a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor plane, taken a ride inside a Union Pacific train engine, danced to a DJ set by Kristian Nairn (Hodor on “Game of Thrones”) and interviewed William Shatner. During the tragedies of the Iconic Village fire and the death of SMPD Officer Ken Copeland, I served as a kind of tape recorder for the information and emotion that flowed forth from both events and shared what I recorded with the rest of the community. In return, I got to see how the worst of circumstances brought out the best in people.
Before I leave the Daily Record, I want to urge everyone to support the newspaper. Local newspapers provide so much to their communities and work so hard to make sure that readers are aware of events and issues and the ways in which the goings-on in the halls of government affect life in the streets and neighborhoods of their towns. They keep information flowing beyond the un-fact-checked realm of social media. And with so much change happening so quickly in Hays County and San Marcos, factual information is more important than ever to the people who care about what happens here. So please: Subscribe, advertise, send letters to the editor, send thank-you notes, send doughnuts to the newsroom.
It has been a joy to serve San Marcos as a reporter at the Daily Record. I will find new ways to serve my community, and I will be seeing you around.