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Digital offerings limitless

November 18, 2007|By LIZ THOMPSON

I didn't figure out what I wanted to be when I grew until I was in my mid-20s.

That's when I stumbled into my first job at a newspaper. I've loved the profession ever since.

There have been several forays into public relations jobs during the last quarter century, but I've always come back to newspapers.

Covering local communities is important work, work that makes me proud every day. We cover local governments, report on crime, try to watch for trends in growth and education, and try to give readers a clear picture of the community in which they live.

I was a reporter for many years and loved the fact that some days were far from, well, normal.

One day, you're sitting in a government meeting listening to elected officials talk about nuisance ordinances. The next day, you're standing on a fire escape in a snowstorm overlooking an interstate highway where police are trying to talk a man with a gun into surrendering.

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Just a typical day at the office.

Admittedly, there were a lot more days of sitting in meetings than there were standing on the fire escape. But there always were just enough fire escapes in the job to keep me on my toes.

Early in my career, I identified the city editor's job as something I would want to do if I ever got tired of being a reporter. Eventually, it became my dream job - that job you build up in your mind as being pretty close to perfect.

You know how that can go. You really think you want something and then, when you get it, it just doesn't live up to your expectations. For me, that wasn't the case.

I've been city editor here for almost seven years.

The job has exceeded my expectations.

I've worked with many talented editors who knew how to make a story better. And I've worked with reporters who knew when to challenge my direction and who taught me about better reporting.

Over the last six-plus years, there have been many, many stories of which I was very proud to have helped produce.

I'd been city editor for seven months when terrorists struck on Sept. 11, 2001. Everyone - reporters, editors and photographers - pulled together to tell that story to our readers. Many people were glued to their television for days watching that story unfold.

In my new job, I hope people will be glued to our Web site.

In a few weeks, I'll be moving out of the newsroom and into a new department called Digital. It isn't something I dreamed about, but it is something I'm excited about.

When I started in this business (I am about to sound really, really old), I don't even know if the Internet existed. It certainly didn't play a role in any part of my life. Now, it is an important aspect of our world and of this business.

The Herald-Mail's Web site has been developing for many years. It began as something that was fairly static and, well, flat.

Now, we can bring you video, audio, slide shows and up-to-the-minute breaking news.

We also can give you a place to express yourself and to participate in a little citizen journalism. In the coming months, we will offer our Web users more and more.

The Web never has to wait for the presses to start. We can bring you the beginnings of a story and keep updating it as it develops. We can look at the pictures you took of your child on Halloween.

We are virtually unlimited in where we can take you through our Web site.

Now really, isn't that the stuff dreams are made of?

Liz Thompson is city editor of The Herald-Mail. She soon will move into her new job as Digital director.

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