Final thoughts

Newsplaining Column: As the time expires on my time at the Hampton Chronicle and Mid America Publishing, I’ve been thinking of how to say goodbye. I’m leaving my position as community news editor for the Hampton Chronicle, and moonlight writer for the Sheffield Press and Pioneer Enterprise. My last day was Friday, so as you read this, I have already continued onwards in my nomadic journey through this brave new world.

In a nutshell, I’ll be moving on to the great city of Ames (Go ‘Clones!), where I’ll reside as I cover the state I’m now beginning to call home. I will be the lead reporter on Iowa politics, news and agriculture for, where I hope to combine my affinity for politics with my career path of making words into legible sentences. I’ll be throwing myself into the fray of Iowa’s political climate and doing my best to make sense and document it all. It will be a challenge, but I believe it’s a challenge that will continue to shape the journalist I’ll one day become.

I’ve learned a lot in my year-and-three-months in Hampton, and one of those things is that you need to do the things you are either not good at, or don’t like doing.

So I’m going to make a list of the things that I’ve learned and will hopefully offer a perspective to some of you who have grown pretty sound in your worldview.

1) Harking back to my lead in statement: you have to do either the things you are bad at, don’t like doing, are uncomfortable with, etc. Life is about the choices you make. We all lead lives where circumstances get in the way of those choices, but at the end of the day, we will be confronted with an opportunity to change those circumstances, and therein lies the choice. Humans are creatures of habit. We can complain as much as we want, but a time will come when we can address those complaints, or keep complaining. Which one will you choose?

2) You can’t convert people to think the way you do. But you can show them what it’s like to live the life you lead. Something I’ve learned at my old age of 23, fresh out of college is that just as much as you hold onto your beliefs and opinions, so do others. You can’t expect people to forget the way they’ve lived their lives if you can’t forget yours. But you can show them how you live. And if you show them how you live, then you can at least be sympathetic towards each other’s circumstances.

3) Skip the op/ed section. The world is a Monday morning quarterback. It’s easy to critique policy and laws after they’re written and you aren’t held accountable by voters or to the lives you end up saving or hurting. Even when that critique is rightly deserved, you aren’t changing the hearts and minds of people in an op/ed piece. This goes back to my prior point, but we need more stories about the daily lives we lead. The daily struggles. The high points and the low points, no matter what they are. We also need facts, and to not be so afraid that we can be wrong. You won’t find that in the op/ed section.

4) America is a football team on the cusp of winning the super bowl every year, but doesn’t, and you can’t fire the head coach, quarterback, running back, wide receiver, or anyone else. America is the ultimate team sport. Everyone needs to realize that not everyone will get the football, and that sometimes, we have to bail people out and give them a shot to catch that winning touchdown pass, even if they’ve already dropped three balls that day, whether president or working class citizen who needs that extra boost.

5) I could go on, since I’m on a roll, but you all get the point. I’m sure I’ve made friends in my time here, and have probably also pushed people away. I’m sorry if those were the circumstances, and I hope that we can move past them. We’re all just trying to do right out here. Feel free to follow me on Twitter to keep in touch on state politics (@ethanstoetzer). I wish everyone the best of luck in all that they do, and be humble about it.