From beginning to end…well, not quite the end

By JENNIFER BOZEMAN PUBLISHER,

Wow, I’ve been here 26 years and I’m still nervous. This is my first paper as publisher. I’ve been in every role there is to have here. But I’m ready. I’m ready to continue my journey here. I love this paper. I have ever since I stepped foot in the door right out of high school. . I’ve spent more time here than at my house.

My senior year at Quitman High School, under the direction of my teacher at the Vo-tech, Mrs. Glenda Fulcher, is where I started learning computer. I was a few months from graduation and didn’t have a clue what I was going to study in college. I had decided to go to Meridian Community College but didn’t have a clue what to do.

After a while in her class, I saw I was good at working on the computer and especially in graphics. I just got it, I understood. I only had to be told once and I knew how to do it. And I also enjoyed it. So there was my answer. MCC offered a business and office degree which ended up being exactly like Mrs. Fulcher’s class. After starting at MCC, the teachers saw I already knew the material so I ended up helping teach the classes. Thank you Quitman School District for teaching me college information.

A few months in, my teacher came to me with an opportunity. A woman named Mary Speed had called the college looking for someone learning graphics that could work for The Clarke County Tribune. I knew the computer programs and I also lived in Quitman. Perfect!!

When I started here under the Speeds in 1993, it was quite different than now. We had up to 15 employees at different times. Everything was typed, printed out, cut up, run through a wax machine and placed on a large piece of paper. That was hard for me to get right, although playing with the wax machine was really cool. I can still remember the smell of hot wax and the sound of the machine as it ran.

I was the first person to actually “lay out” pages entirely on the computer instead of the manual cut, wax and paste method. Then I was still only allowed to do front page. The rest was made the old way. After we got through with the entire paper, it would be loaded up in a box, driven to the press hours away, waited to be printed and driven back. Now we email, its printed in McComb, trucked to Forrest and picked up a few hours later.

This is also where I met the infamous Cindy Baxley. She was very pregnant with Wade and we immediately hit it off to become best friends, sisters from different misters, joined at the hip. We can read each other’s thoughts just from looking at each other. We called each other our “work wife”.

When I started, I was under Publisher Jane Kramer. Not long into my new job one day, she asked me if I wanted to ride with her to a bad accident that had happened up then Hwy. 45 near Moore’s Diesel. Sure I did. The accident was three vehicles. The one in the middle of the road looked like a wadded up piece of paper. I still have the photo.

That’s all it took, I was hooked. I graduated MCC in 1994 and left to go to the University of Southern Miss for photo journalism. I worked part time for the Tribune during that time and graduated in December 1998. After that I left here about a year but ended up right back here in early 2000, thanks to Steve Swogetinsky. He brought me back to the Tribune. I have always loved Steve. I’ve learned a lot from him about newspaper business. He also taught me that diabetics should not eat candy bars. Hehe.

I’ve worked under several great publishers, including Carol Owen (the most fun one), Wade Bolen, Carver Rayburn, Ruth Bryant, Cindy Kirkman and most recently, Elisa Mayo. I have learned different things under each one and I value the friendships that have come from each one.

So here I am. I pray I can do the job justice. I pray I can make this community proud. I will need your help to do that. This requires a community effort. I need your news, your ideas, your support, your constructive criticism (in a nice way), your advertising, your subscriptions. I need you!

If you need me, call me, email me, Facebook message me, stop by. I will still be selling advertising so I won’t always be in office. Belinda Allen, our graphics guru, our front desk smile who always has a pep in her step, can help you if I’m not here. I am hiring a reporter to fill our empty spot so if you’re nosey and interested in a cool job, send me your resume. I will be hiring really soon.

Let us know what we can do for you. That’s why we are here, as a service to the community; as a history book for Clarke County. There is only two of us right now, so keep in mind we cannot attend every event but we always welcome photos and stories from you, our community.

My email is jbozeman@clarkecountytrib.com or you can call me at 601-776-3726. By the way, we just got a new phone system so if I hang you up, its not on purpose. I can run a newspaper but can’t work a phone.