I’ve never wondered what makes me walk into the newsroom every day. The coffee helps, the camaraderie is wonderful, but in the end, it’s the joy of putting stories to the printed page.
They’re your stories, of course. We journalists are merely conduits to tell them the best way we know how. I’ve found inspiration in the stories you’ve shared in your living room, your office, your tennis court, your urban farm.
I’ve seen a family losing a father to a tragic illness, and watched the community rally around them to give them one great final year. I’ve felt that electric moment when Winter Park’s boys basketball team finally won the state championship after so much struggle. I've watched the scorching serves of a teenage girl battling autism as she battles opponents on the tennis court in the Special Olympics. I've seen seniors defy age and do amazing things. I've watched hurricanes destroy homes and marveled at the resilience of people who won't be beaten down.
You’ve put your trust in the Observer — and in me — to tell your stories, giving us the honor of being the stranger with the outstretched hand, about to become good friends with another reader. We’ve shared the joy of helping other people say hello.
Thankfully, that mission continues, and in many ways better than ever. But it’s with great sadness that I find one of the last stories I’ll tell on the pages of the Winter Park/Maitland Observer is my own. I’m stepping down as managing editor after nearly 10 years with the paper.
It seems like I’ve spent half a lifetime here, and in that time I’ve met friends who have become family. I met my wife, Jenny, working in our old office along Executive Drive. That’s where I also met associate publisher Tracy Craft, who will always be my Mama Tracy. Josh Garrick went from our arts editor to an international arts star. Chris Jepson and Louis Roney enthralled our readers with passionate prose, and some life advice too. I’ve trained scores of interns and young journalists who have gone on to great careers. Tim Freed, who walked through our doors as a green intern, will continue on in my stead, a multi-award-winning journalist in his own right.
In the community I've found friends, confidantes and cohorts who have helped me along the way. To all of you (and you know who you are) thank you.
In the Observer’s newsroom, I’ve found a diversity of minds converging around the same goal: the search for truth. There's some ugliness occasionally uncovered there. As journalists, we do our part to make sure our government leaders don’t stray too far from the ideal of public service. In the end, we all want a better world.
Where the next 10 years take me is anyone’s guess. I just know life’s too short to not have a hand in deciding it. I don’t know my destination yet. I only know where I hail from. To many of you I am — and will remain — that newspaper guy.
One thing I know for certain is I’ll always be a part of Winter Park and Maitland. So when you see me, maybe on a sunny spring morning in Central Park with a newspaper in my hands, don’t be a stranger. Stop by and say hello. And I’ll tell you a story.
Isaac Babcock can now be reached at [email protected]