Change can freak us out, but has purpose

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2006

From time to time, I&8217;ll use this space to explain a bit of what&8217;s happening at your newspaper.

Lately, we&8217;ve had quite a bit of change. And that can freak us all out a bit.

Even though we often see more than our fair share of the rough side of life &8212; crimes, natural disasters, shady deals and the like &8212; in our news coverage, we&8217;re all still human. And humans don&8217;t like change. Changing up our routines upsets our little apple carts.

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We&8217;re all a little like pop singer Billy Joel&8217;s hit song, &8220;Just The Way You Are.&8221; Paraphrasing the song, &8220;We love things just the way they are.&8221; Unfortunately, the world is always moving.

In the past couple of weeks, our community has lost some valuable members. Several succumbed to illness and a few left to pursue challenges elsewhere. Each circumstance, however, brings about change.

As I prepared to write this column I began doing a little reading on the subject of &8220;change.&8221;

The word is a simple one, but one that can terrify, thrill empower and tear down. Which one occurs is completely dependent on the circumstances.

Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote, &8220;Nothing endures but change.&8221; Our newsroom certainly helps prove Heraclitus&8217; case.

After nearly four years, we recently said &8220;goodbye&8221; to

Kerry Whipple

Bean. Her excellent editorial work in Natchez earned her many awards and finally the opportunity to become publisher of a newspaper in Brewton, Ala.

While I hated to see Kerry go, the opportunities for her and her husband, Josh, are great. She&8217;s beginning to get settled in and get comfortable with her new surroundings. Our loss is truly Brewton&8217;s gain.

As I thought of Kerry this week, learning a new community, all the new faces and all the subtle nuances that make each community unique, I couldn&8217;t help but wonder how she&8217;s doing.

As I researched the topic of change, I was struck by a quote from Alan Cohen: &8220;It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new.&8221;

Kerry certainly exhibited that courage as she jumped into the seemingly unfamiliar and insecure new world in Alabama.

Back in Natchez, our new managing editor, Julie Finley, is also learning a new role, too. Julie will be an excellent managing editor and serve the community well, too.

Familiar faces are still around, too.

Joan Gandy

, who has probably helped more journalists launch their careers than anyone I know, is still with us. I was thinking about the impact Joan has had on the newspaper business the other day and I was staggered &8212; only counting the names and faces with which I am familiar.

Joan has helped train folks here in Natchez that have gone on to help produce some of the nation&8217;s best newspapers. Personally, I know of reporters from here working in Charlotte, N.C., New Orleans, Miami, and countless smaller cities around the South. Photographers with whom she&8217;s shared a light table include a group from New Orleans to Austin, Texas, to California. On a personal note, Joan taught me many things, but the one I remember most was how to take a simple portrait of a &8220;lady.&8221;

&8220;Have them seated and looking up at you slightly. Everyone looks a little better when seen from slightly above,&8221; she said as she illustrated with her hand that the angle helped &8220;hide&8221; a woman&8217;s neck a bit.

Yep, Joan has taught many, many lessons. And Natchez has been a springboard for countless journalists, newspaper publishers and owners through the years.

While it sometimes may seem as if the newspaper has a constant stream of changing names and faces, the changes have a great purpose. And to all who pass through Natchez and have something to do with its historic newspaper, Natchez always leaves its special mark.

Kevin Cooper

is associate publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or