You’d think that on my last day at TCCJ, I would be contemplating some great quotation on press freedom by Thomas Jefferson.

Not even close.  Instead, I can’t get one of Dr. Seuss’ best-known lines out of my head: “Don’t cry because it’s over.  Smile because it happened.”

To be sure, there’s so much about the work of the Center that I will miss – especially my interactions with the best group of community newspaper people in the United States.  These last 20 years of interactions with Texas journalists have certainly enriched my life. And it’s especially gratifying to see folk who came to us two decades ago with the ink barely dry on their degrees who have now taken places of leadership at Texas newspapers.

TCCJ was founded as an investment in people.  It was a partnership of the Texas Newspaper Foundation and TCU with the goal of investing in the mid-career training of journalists.

Our strategy was to conduct meaningful, practical training sessions in an atmosphere of laughter and fun, and to do it in a way that honored newspeople as professionals. And I believe we succeeded.

Texas newspapers are in the only institutions in their communities that exist to inform citizens and make sure the public’s business is done in public.  We’re the only ones providing an open marketplace of opinion and often speaking truth to power. If we weren’t there, there are no backup institutions to fill that community need.

And as important as newspapers are, they are no stronger than the professionals who work there, people who do what they do because they love their work and are passionate about news.

I am excited that even though I am retiring, the work of the Center will go on under the capable leadership of Dan Malone and Kathryn Jones at Tarleton State University. These two are consummate professionals who love this business and the people who make it work. Please support them, and let’s make sure that TCCJ’s best days are yet to come.

And despite Dr. Seuss’ advice, I have shed a few tears because it’s over.  But I’m smiling now because I have so many wonderful friends in Texas journalism and because I’m so happy that TCCJ will continue to fulfill its mission.

Happy trails….

Kathryn Jones Malone

Kathryn Jones Malone is co-director of the Texas Center for Community Journalism. She began her career as a staff writer at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, then worked as a staff writer for the Dallas Times Herald and The Dallas Morning News; as a contract writer for The New York Times; as a writer-at-large for Texas Monthly magazine; as editor of the Glen Rose Reporter; and as a freelance writer for numerous state, regional and national magazines. She teaches journalism at Tarleton State University.