I cannot say for certain, but I have a small hunch that I have just about worn out the ‘Welcome’ on the welcome mat outside of the Editor’s door. At the very least, she may have my messages blocked from text reception (if there is such a feature).
This thought crossed my mind most recently as I read an e-mail from a friend wondering “if the Leader had heard… (insert a menagerie of topics here).” Reception of such messages are usually followed by a text to the Editor and then a reply to the friend of “I’ll check with our Editor.”
Admittedly, that response is always a little bittersweet. Gone are my days of “No, I had not heard. Let’s talk and see what we can do about a story.” I fully realize that this response is probably much of the reason many still contact me wondering if we ‘had heard’ or ‘will there be something in the paper about…’
Replacing my notebook with a position on our management team was a difficult yet necessary decision. My background and education are better suited to my current position as Circulation Manager and the schedule is much more forgiving of life with a young family.
Yes, my column still appears weekly. My boss was kind enough to allow me to hold on to this one little nugget of my Editorial Career. Truth be told, column writing was always a favorite part of my job.
But with 10 years of passing through our front door now behind me, it is safe to say that people think of Teresa Hammond and the Oakdale Leader as one and the same. So as I navigate through the transition of my position change, now almost two years later, I tread carefully.
We are, after all, part of the same team and I am a firm believer in the ‘no I in team’ philosophy, however I also feel we are each responsible for our own roles and titles (whatever that may be).
While my switch in positions was not planned, the timing of it was perfect on many levels. As the mother of two active children who are both enrolled in Oakdale schools, there comes a sort of burden of having a mother whose job is to take photos and write for the paper.
This is a concept some do not fully grasp. It is a confusion I have witnessed on many occasions. I appear to support my son in a particular activity, only to eventually be asked by another attendee if I am or will be taking pictures for the paper.
My response is typically the same. In my best gracious tone I kindly share that I am present as my son’s mother, not as ‘the lady from the Oakdale Leader’ and they are ‘more than welcome to e-mail photos to our editor.’
So, when I appear on the school campus of one of my children or attend a dance performance or swim meet you can just about bet I am there in the same capacity as the rest of the parents - serving in the job of Mom.
Being totally honest, it is a slippery slope. I always want to be approachable and I love that people feel comfortable to call or e-mail me when a story crosses their mind. But when it comes to my children, the newspaper is my job; it is not who I am.
My oldest is seven and the youngest four, so we are still navigating how this all works in every day life. Fortunately they just openly accept that we know a lot of people. The newspaper connection, however, is completely lost on them and that works for me.
Recently, parents of a few of my son’s classmates shared the excitement their children shared when they spotted my photo in the paper exclaiming, “I didn’t know Mrs. Hammond worked at the newspaper.” One of my son’s friends actually shared with me, “Jackson never said anything about you working at the Oakdale Leader.” I simply smiled and replied, “Yes, it is a novelty lost on your friend and that’s okay with his mommy.”
Complete confirmation of this, however, came a few weeks ago. A close family friend who happens to also be our babysitter was in a photo on the banner which stretches across the top of our paper. Our friend is a swimmer. When my son saw the picture he naively asked if it was Michael Phelps. I shared with he and his sister, “No, even better … it’s Stevie.” Instantly the two squealed with delight at the notion that their babysitter was in the newspaper. This was a big deal.
The upside of all of this is that our Editor is even less tech savvy than I. So, as long as you all have stories, questions, curiosities or leads I can promise you this: I will not write the story, but I’ll be sure your message makes it to the right person.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.