Sunday a gentleman came in the office to get a copy of a recent edition of The Gazette-Virginian, and he mentioned that most of the familiar faces that he once knew were gone. 

A lot of the staff that was on board when I first started in 2013 have either retired or pursued other opportunities. 

But, we continue to strive to bring the same quality of coverage that the Gazette has pursued for the past 117 years. 

Those of us in community journalism try to bring to you readers what we think you should know about local government, the school system, economic development, crime, sports, other news and human interest and feature stories.

For me personally, I’ve gone from covering mostly school-related news, the happenings at the local libraries and feature stories to sitting at the editor’s desk.

I’ve covered a little bit of everything, wrecks, fires, crime, elections, new businesses, community events and so forth.

Over the years, journalism has gotten tougher. It’s scrutinized more and competes with social media. And, don’t even get me started with fake news. The public’s perception of journalism is something that I fight to win over daily. 

Also, it often seems like they’re more hoops to go through to get the information that we need. Individuals, agencies and businesses seem to be wearier to talk to media, and often times, we have to contact a media line or send emails to businesses or police rather than call so they can fine tune their statement before releasing it to the public rather than talking freely. There’s nothing wrong with this per se, but sometimes, it leaves us waiting until minutes before deadline wondering if we’re gong to get the statement or information that we seek.  

My hope is that we have community trust, and that we can continue to keep that trust to accurately report the news in a balanced manner. 

Here at The Gazette, we also don’t have the staff that we once we had. Just looking at the editorial side of the newsroom, the six desks that once were occupied are now down to three, an editor, a staff writer and a sports writer, who dabbles in news from time to time. We’re also thankful to have some part time help from Doug Ford at times. Even with the small staff, we keep going for you all. 

This past year also has been a challenge at times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with some individuals only available via phone or email, and some events or meetings canceled or only held virtually.  There’s also the ever-evolving information regarding COVID-19 that we strived, and still strive, to stay on top of. 

Some days it has required creative thinking to keep the newspaper going, but I feel like we have done well, and I hope you agree. I couldn’t have done it without the staff that I have behind me.

We’re not perfect. We’re only human after all, but like I said, we strive to do our best day in and day out to stay on top of all the news that’s in Halifax County, the region and the state. 

I hope that you will keep reading and supporting us in the future, and feel free to drop off a tip for a news story, feature story or column idea any time. 

Ashley Hodge is the editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com

Ashley Hodge is the editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com