Gratitude

It’s no particular secret that The Canadian Record is a barely discernible blue spot in the red political sea of the Texas Panhandle. While I have never had, nor claimed, any party affiliation, my editorial writing has indelibly branded me as a (insert your choice of expletives) liberal (insert your choice of amplifying adjectives) Democrat to some, and a wild-eyed socialist flamethrower to others. 
In this intemperate political climate, one would think that might be an insurmountable obstacle to any business owner with such publicly disparate views who seeks the community’s support to keep the doors open each week. 
Indeed, some weeks have been worse than others. Occasionally, I comfort myself by imagining some poor, beleaguered, conservative publisher in the bluer climes of Vermont or Rhode Island, routinely hacking out columns that infuriate his readers and provoke enraged letters to the editor. 
“Poor fool,” I think. “Those left-wingers can sure be obnoxious.”
But for the last 70 years, the Ezzell family has managed, each week, to crank out another newspaper and make another payroll. In doing so, we have been the grateful beneficiaries of this community’s sometimes grudging tolerance and its often remarkable pride.
Reflecting on that long history today, I was struck by this prevailing sense of gratitude. 
I am writing this column between deadlines, a few hours after uploading the pages of our Thanksgiving edition to the printer, and a couple of hours before we begin the frantic final dash to Christmas, and to the finish line of 2018. I doubt that I’m alone in welcoming its departure. 
This has been a difficult year for many of those I love, and for many of my colleagues in the newspaper business. Far too many newspapers have closed this year, felled by any number of problems: a poor economy; an inattentive or unappreciative public; disasters—both natural and unnatural—that have decimated entire communities; owners who are aging or ill, or just plain exhausted. Some have simply yielded to the seismic cultural shift in which the way we communicate—the way we consume and exchange information—is rapidly metamorphosing.
And yet, I am thankful.
I am thankful for advertisers. For those who continue to believe in the importance of newspapers, and who trust newspapers to deliver their message. For those who provide the support we need to ensure an informed and engaged public—even when confronted by the same economic challenges we face, and despite whatever political differences might divide us.
I am thankful for readers. For those who still value the written word —even, and especially, the kind that leaves ink on your hands. For those who walk through our doors each week, who offer their opinion of the weather and plunk down their quarters in exchange for the latest news. For those who write personal notes on their subscription renewal forms, cheering us on. For those who—with uncanny instinct—arrive during the most difficult times, bearing plates of ginger snaps, freshly baked and still warm from the oven.
I am thankful for each of you who are reading this column and who support the Texas Press Association. For your hard work, your dedication, your survival. For your determination and persistence, at a time when the very principles that guide our work are under siege. For the knowledge you share, and the stories you tell.
I am thankful for newspapers—these rough first drafts of history that might otherwise go untold and unpreserved. Newspapers have educated, informed, provoked, amused and inspired generations of Americans, and have contributed to the great strength of this country. And newspapers have given me both a family and a profession, to which I am proud to belong, and for which I am eternally grateful.