Sometimes I look around the newsroom and I think about all the people that have passed through the Times-Journal over the years. I like to think of them as the ghosts of the newsroom greats. I know some of them and others I have only heard stories about, but we all have something in common now because we can all say that we have written for the T-J.
When I was in high school, Lew Gilliland was the sports editor and he always asked thought-provoking questions. There were times after basketball games where he would catch me before I went into the locker room and ask me a single question. I would answer his one question and he would create an entire sports story around it, and never misquote me.
Cody Dowler is our sports editor now and everyone in the building will tell you that he is absolutely amazing at what he does. But before Cody, there was also Will Gaines, Bradley Roberts and a few others.
I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Will when I was in college, and just recently I have watched that opportunity come full circle.
It was 2015 and the Martin Methodist College Women’s Basketball team was playing in the NAIA national tournament in Kansas City, Missouri. Somehow, the Times-Journal got wind of the story and started making some calls. My dad called me while we were at the hotel to tell me the sports editor at the Times-Journal was wanting to interview me. My first question was whether or not it was Lew. But it was Will who called, and I will never forget that interview. I sat in the stairwell of the hotel and talked to him like I was talking to a friend. We had not met in person, but after we got off the phone he knew the entire story of my college basketball career. That article hung on my parents’ refrigerator for years, but I didn’t fully appreciate it until I started working here myself. See, when I was interested in the job, it was Will who got me Tricia’s contact information. I got the job and then I realized that I now sit where Will sat. I work where Lew Gilliland once worked, and Huck Treadwell, and all the other writers whose stories I grew up reading in the paper at school. I am no sports editor, I don’t even consider myself a reporter, but I do think it’s neat to see how the paths have all led to the Times-Journal. My phone still reads, ‘Hello, Will,” when I reset it. My desk is filled with used reporter notebooks that have Will’s notes, Bradley’s notes, and maybe there are some deep in there that have Lew’s notes on them. My point to all of this dot-connecting is to say that my goal is to be as good a writer as the ones who came before me. I want to give someone the opportunity to have a refrigerator-worthy article to be proud of just like Lew and Will did for me. I want to start someone else’s path to the Times-Journal like they did for me. Like all the ones before me, I want to be the ghost in the newsroom one day and subconsciously help someone whose path also led to the Times-Journal.
Kayla Beaty is a staff writer for the Times-Journal. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.