In the community newspaper business there is never a good time to get away from the office and just kick back and relax. Something is always going on that requires attention.
Plan ahead all you want but things always seem to heat up right before one takes leave.
This past week, I had the opportunity to attend the Association of Free Community Papers Conference in warm and sunny Orlando, Florida. I am privileged to serve on their board of directors and my wife Gayle is very active on the conference committee, primarily responsible for food and entertainment for 350 of our close friends from around the United States and Canada.
Conference week requires long days, juggling schedules and running down many details to have the event proceed without a hitch. But, of course, hitches happen like the Keynote speaker getting stranded in a Minnesota snow storm and the Manta roller coaster ride breaking down at Sea World with several publishers trapped for 20 minutes. Only one required hospitalization for hyper tension.
But that’s a different story all together, for tonight I sit here technically on vacation hoping to enjoy a few days of this warm, Florida sun after being confined inside a conference hall for the better part of a week. But drafting this column late Sunday night stands between me and my well deserved week.
In today’s fast-paced world it is difficult to leave it all behind, try as one might. Electronically we’re always connected and the connections are constantly improving. That is unless you break them or have the ability to turn them off. I’m one of those who just can’t let go.
As is usually the case, before leaving the North Country, I do my best to address issues that might create a problem while I’m gone. Fix a computer or two, order some new equipment, or do some modest phone system repairs.
Somehow no matter when I try to get away the routine always seems to be replaced with crisis type issues requiring more than the normal amount of detailed attention. Before departing we had two sudden resignations, two long term retirement announcements in the editorial department, and we finalized our plans to install a new digital press requiring some office retro-fitting. I also managed to kill the entire phone system in our Ticonderoga office. I’m told the hard drive failed while I was doing some programming and it wasn’t really my fault but I have been known for making changes just prior to leaving that left things in the lurch before, so I’m not getting much of a pass from the staff.
Despite being assured the Ti phone system was repaired before I left the Ti office late Friday night the system was not fully operational until Thursday morning of the following week. Throughout the conference and into this week vacation time, regardless of its importance to re-charge the battery, is never more than a part-time pursuit while pressing issues at the office continue to take precedence.
Over the years I always marveled at my friend Paul Sands of WPTZ when he would be on vacation. His weekly editorial during his time off was a video of him floating in a swimming pool, on a raft with a book while birds chirped and the gentle water of the pool filter gurgled in the background. Then he would lift his eyes from the book as he floated toward the camera, and proclaim not now he was on vacation.
Well consider this column as my attempt to let you know, I’m still taking calls and working on issues back home but needed to get this space filled before I can sign out for a week of R&R from a beautiful spot a few feet away from the Gulf of Mexico.
I promise to bring some of this warm weather back north with me in a few days as I return to our beloved North County. Until next week I hope you’ll consider me just “kickin’ back”.
Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.