Shorey: Tom Ward taught me the right approach

Shorey: Tom Ward taught me the right approach

CUMBERLAND – I remember during one of my first days on the job 14 years ago being blown away by how many hats Tom Ward had worn in one day. He’d filled in to deliver and neaten up papers, snapped some photos of some local events, then attended several events in the afternoon and evening.

I knew right away that this was the work ethic and commitment it took to build a successful local newspaper at a time when many others were starting to trim back.

Tom led by example in showing that there is no true job description when it comes to delivering quality local news to communities.

That day of work perfectly captured the recipe for why The Valley Breeze had become so successful over the 10 years before I came on board. He’d gotten up at the crack of dawn to make sure his friends and neighbors had their paper in their hands, then he’d gone to cover news they cared about, and then he was there proving his commitment at events he didn’t need to be at.

There are so many lessons I’ve learned from Tom and my former editor Marcia Green that will be part of this paper for as long as I’m a part of it and working with owners who care about the same things. Here are some of them:

• Faces, faces, faces. If readers aren’t seeing the faces of their neighbors and families on these pages, then we’re not doing our job.

• Never, ever forget what we are, which is a publication telling the stories of our communities. In a word, local stories in your neighborhood.

• Never shy away from hard work. Readers will notice it.

• If you’re driving by something and wondering what it is, so are your readers. Tell them. If readers have a question about what’s going on, answer it. You are their voice.

• Never rush the story at the expense of accuracy. Your credibility is far more important than getting it first.

I’ll never forget my first interview with Tom and Marcia in Marcia’s corner office on Mendon Road. The answer that got me the job was not about how qualified I was or how well I could put a sentence together, but they smiled from ear to ear when I said I’d wanted to write about local news since I was 11 years old, and that I’d learned to understand its value from reading my own hometown newspaper.

Tom, thank you for your loyalty and always appreciating hard work over sheer talent. And thank you for teaching me early on that delivering newspapers to the readers of my town is not a thankless job.