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Sun, Feb 25, 2018 03:51 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
This n' That
It's all Scott's fault
by Tony Fyffe

I blame Scott Perry for everything that has happened in my professional life in the last 14 years.

It was in April 1989 that Scott gave me my first newspaper job — as news editor of The Paintsville Herald. At the time, Scott and his dad, Bud, owned the paper, with Scott serving as editor and his father as publisher. It wasn’t too many months later that they announced to the staff, and then to the readers, that the Herald had been sold to an Alabama company, Smith Newspapers. I was kind of worried about the transaction, mainly because just a few months earlier I had lost my job at a radio station that was owned by an out-of-state company. But my fears with the new Herald owners were soon eased, and everything continued as usual. Then, about a year later, Smith Newspapers wanted Scott to take over as editor and publisher of The Floyd County Times, and Scott accepted.

Thanks, Scott — not!

Scott’s replacement at the Herald operated in a totally different manner than Scott, and soon everything was thrown into chaos. I was later named editor of the Herald (a suggestion Scott made to the company after it became clear that the new publisher and editor didn’t quite have a grip on the local community), but I and the rest of the staff were not happy with the way things were going. The publisher was later dismissed, a new publisher, Larry Martin, took over and things started getting better. Larry got along well with people in the community, and the Herald started improving. Larry and I would often talk to Scott about ways to get more readers and improve news coverage, and Scott was more than willing to give advice. After all, although he had severed his ties with the Herald, it was still important to him because of his and his family’s past connections to the paper.

Larry stayed with the paper for several years until he, too, was let go, another one of those stupid corporation decisions that didn’t make any sense. His successor, like Scott’s, didn’t have a clue what she was doing, and it wasn’t too long afterward that long-time staff members had had enough and started quitting. That was around the time that Robin Cooper, who was mayor of Paintsville, decided to start another newspaper in Paintsville and convinced most Herald staff members, including yours truly to join his effort.

Scott, through the urging of the Smith Newspapers powers-to-be, tried to convince me to stay, but I respectfully declined. Scott had another reason to try to dissuade the Herald staff from leaving — he had plans to one day start a regional newspaper, and he wanted the Herald staff, whom he had worked with for so many years, to join him.

His attempts to get us to stay at the Herald didn’t work, however, and The Weekly Progress, the new paper, was born. Two years later, the Progress was sold to yet another Alabama company and was merged with The Paintsville Herald, with Scott returning as publisher and editor. I’ll admit that I and other Progress staffers were not happy about the merger, simply because the paper we had started was put to rest, but it didn’t take long for everybody to settle back in at the Herald and work comfortably with Scott. I was at the Herald for a little over a year when Scott asked me if I wanted to take the editor’s job at The Big Sandy News in Louisa, which he and his father owned. I accepted his offer, mainly because it gave me a chance to try newspapering in another county. I was editor for a couple of years, and then Scott’s dream finally came true — he purchased The Martin County Sun and merged it and the BSN into a regional newspaper.

The rest is history.

I became chief of the Louisa bureau of the BSN, but about a year later Scott asked me to be the copy editor and come back to Paintsville and work. Once again, Scott Perry plunged me into a new and different area of the “news business.”

Copy editing is like nothing I’ve ever done in the newspaper business. It requires me to edit the news and sports stories and practically everything else you read in the paper. It can be a hard and stressful job, but, then again, what job isn’t?

My newspaper career, for what it’s worth, is all Scott’s fault. He gave me a chance to spread my journalistic wings when he gave me my first newspaper job 14 years ago, and apparently I will continue to spread those wings now that he is gone. The entire staff at the BSN will have to continue his dream and vision, and it will be an extremely difficult task without Scott at the helm. But we’ll do it because we know that’s what he would want us to do. Scott’s spirit — not to mention his constant bickering — is what has gotten us through the last week and a half.

Scott Perry was more than my mentor. He was more than a friend, too. He was too young to be my second father, so I guess he was my third brother. I knew that as long as Scott was around, everything would be OK.

He won’t be around anymore, at least physically, but I feel his presence all the time. That’s why I have to close for now and get to work on other responsibilities.

As Scott would always say, “Quit yackin’ and get crackin.’”

That’s exactly what I plan to do.


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