Saying goodbye, but also hello


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Tuesday was my last day with The Daily Advance.

Yeah, heavy.

I have been offered, and accepted, the grant administrator position with the city of Elizabeth City. My first day is today, and my starting annual salary is $44,100 of taxpayers’ money. I’ll help shepherd along the many — and large — grants the city has already won while going after more for the public’s benefit. It’s a good challenge and opportunity.

Part of me will always miss the Advance, though. It’s what brought me to Elizabeth City about six-and-a-half years ago. You might call it a small-town paper, but it was my big break. There were limited opportunities in my hometown in upper Michigan, and the Advance offered me a new beginning and brought me closer to family scattered across North Carolina. I didn’t know it at the time, but it also put me on track to meet my wife, Dana.

On multiple levels, I’m forever grateful to Julian Eure and Mike Goodman for taking a chance on someone from not ‘round these parts.

I’m also grateful to the region’s residents for helping me tell their stories. The nature of my job dictated many of those stories were political; I hope I’ve helped people understand their government and how their involvement is vital to keep it on track.

But I’ve also enjoyed the “community” part of our community newspaper. Elders of journalism like to say reporting is the first draft of history. Hokey as it might sound, I’ve enjoyed covering the street festivals and the graduations and the parades and all the Albemarle residents who are exceptional, weird, or both. Small-town newspapers capture ephemeral moments only fully appreciated by posterity; without them, memories are lost, like photos falling from a scrapbook.

Paeans to reporting might sound off-key since I’m leaving for the public sector. Why grant administration? I’ve always thought of myself as a writer in public service, and this will push that to another level. I’’m invested in Elizabeth City, and now I’ll aim to convince outside agencies to do the same.

Personal growth is also a factor. When something gets too easy and too familiar, you probably need a change. I’ve been reporting for close to a decade, counting the first newspaper I worked at. It’s time to try something new.

So, in that vein, I’m saying goodbye, but also hello. Let’s see what more I can do.

Jon Hawley is a former staff writer for The Daily Advance.