Carter: Who says you can’t go home?

This will be my last column for the Carroll County Times. Tomorrow, I start a new challenge within the Baltimore Sun Media Group, overseeing coverage of Harford and Baltimore counties in the Sun's community newsroom.

It’s an exciting move for me. For those who don’t know, I grew up in Harford County, graduating from Bel Air High School, and for the past decade have lived with my wife (who works in Harford) in Baltimore County. Who says you can’t go home?


But I’ve certainly come to appreciate what a wonderful place Carroll County is over the 12 years I’ve worked at the Times.

When I came to the Times in 2007, I honestly didn’t know how much time I would spend here. To be honest, I thought of it as a foot into the door of the daily newspaper world and an opportunity to move back closer to the Baltimore area after spending the first five years of my professional career working on the Eastern Shore and lower Delaware. I was tired of making 3-hour drives every other weekend to visit my girlfriend (whom I would marry about two years later) and my parents.

The job I took with the Times as a copy editor/page designer was also a welcome break after serving as the editor of a weekly newspaper in Delaware for the previous year. Looking back, it was a position I wasn’t quite ready for after spending a majority of my career in sports reporting. To that point, it was more of my work in page design and my hustle as a sports reporter that got me promoted to editor there.

Page design was, to me, relaxing, and an opportunity to use the graphic design skills I picked up while getting an art minor in college. It’s a shame that many of these positions have gone by the wayside in our industry as we’ve moved to a more digital product and creative design has been de-emphasized for templated pages for the sake of ease and cost savings.

My plan was to work on the night shift on the Times’ copy desk for a few years and look for more opportunities to go back to sports reporting or something else a little closer to Harford County, where my future wife was living and working.

About 10 months after I started, the Times’ city editor (an antiquated newspaper term for the person in charge of news staff and assignments) decided to take a job in the Midwest. The city editor gig was intriguing to me, there were certainly things I enjoyed in my previous time as an editor, and it didn’t hurt that the position offered an opportunity for a better schedule, a better paycheck and more responsibility.

I remember timidly walking into then-editor Jim Lee’s office with a resume in a manila envelope to throw my hat in the ring. We’d had such little interaction those first few months, since I worked the later shift, I wasn’t positive he even knew my full name. (He did.) I don’t know how many outside resumes Jim received for that job, but he decided to give me a two-month trial run to see if it was a good fit. I must’ve done something right, because I was offered the job full time at the end of 2007.

Jim was the excellent mentor who I lacked working in Delaware (as sports reporter, I was generally left alone because the two previous editors I worked under didn’t know much about sports), and he helped me greatly in my professional development as both a journalist and a manager. Jim was like the dad you didn’t want to disappoint. He didn’t have to say much to let you know whether or not you were meeting expectations, and was always helpful in his suggestions.

But I remember thinking at the time I didn’t want his job and all the stuff that went with it outside of the journalism. So when our then-publisher Trish Carroll asked me if I wanted to be the editor after Jim and his successor left the paper in less than a year’s time, I was kind of surprised when I told her “yes.”

For the past three years, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this job that I never knew I wanted. I’ve made a number of connections and had a number of experiences I’ll remember fondly, and I have Trish to thank for having the confidence in me.

A few parting thoughts. First, if you ever have the opportunity to be part of the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Carroll program, do it. You’ll learn so much about this wonderful county and make a lot of business connections. It’s incredible and worth it.

Second, be supportive of Carroll’s nonprofit community and volunteer fire companies. These folks do yeoman’s work and the amount of money they save Carroll taxpayers through the generous donation of their own time is incredible. It’s part of the reason why two of the things I’m most proud of during my years at the Times is our “Nonprofit View” that appears on this page on Mondays, allowing those organizations to tell their stories, and the Holiday Hope campaign, where we’ve been able to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for several charities over the years.

Finally, I want to thank all of the folks I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years. They are too numerous to mention them all, but I do want to shout out a few in particular. To the dozens of reporters who have come and gone, you’ve all made an impression and taught me something, lessons I’ll carry with me throughout the rest of my career. Hopefully, you learned something from me too. Joe McClure, who was my first boss at the Times on the copy desk and who gave me a vote of confidence I desperately needed when I starting working as the city editor. Of course, the last few years wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts our news editor Bob Blubaugh, who I am pleased to say will be promoted to editor on Monday, and our long-time sports editor Pat Stoetzer. These two have made my job easy.

And of course, thank you to our readers, who continue to support this community newspaper. You are the reason we have done this for more than 100 years and the reason we plan to do so for at least 100 more.