Back in 1988, I took my first newspaper job — as a cartoonist sketching about local issues for The Sun of Baltimore — and immediately loved the work. After The Sun stopped using regional cartoonists (read: me) I thought about relocating outside the region to work as an editorial cartoonist at a big paper, but that idea lost its appeal once my son was born in 1993. In the coming years, I never moved too far from Baltimore, holding jobs at newspapers and magazines in West Virginia, Virginia and in Maryland (as reporter, city editor, managing editor) as well as outside the business (as an art teacher).
By 2011, I had begun to wonder if I’d ever find a position I considered the ideal one for me.
Then I found the Spirit.
It’s been a little more than two years since I was asked to take over the editorial direction of this publication, which dates to 1844. One of West Virginia’s oldest newspapers (predating even the statehood of West Virginia), the Spirit has a long and well respected reputation as a member of this community and a participant in its communal life and activities. During my time here, I’ve sought to expand the notion of what the ‘spirit’ of Jefferson means — to make it an active and vital forum through which the topics that affect all Jefferson countians can be presented and discussed. I’ve been pleased and proud that under my leadership the Spirit has embraced the idea of allowing a diverse array of viewpoints to be heard (despite sometimes vocal opposition to that notion) in a way that I have always maintained is consistent with the Jeffersonian principles of debate and tolerance for new ideas; that our readership base has grown and has continued to grow; and that the Spirit has become well represented these last two years at the annual West Virginia Press Association awards. Last week, in what might be the first time, a story first published in the Spirit was picked up for distribution nationwide by the Associated Press.
Indeed, it’s been a deeply satisfying two years and I’m happy to be able to say I’ve left my mark on this newspaper as its managing editor, and then as its editor.
But, as they say, change happens, and I’ve found a job that’s even better than this one.
Beginning this week, I’ll assume the duties of publisher of the Spirit as part of an agreement with the See family that makes me part-owner of this newspaper. As many know, the Sees, who own the award winning Hampshire Review, purchased the Spirit in 2009 from longtime owner Edward “Pat” Dockeney. As owner, I remain even more committed to the Spirit as I’ve been since I got here — and also to the Spirit’s readers and advertisers — to continue to make this newspaper the best one on the newsstands each and every Wednesday morning.
— Robert Snyder