One era ends, another begins

Published 12:06 am Friday, December 30, 2011

The departure of Ray McKeithan from the Washington Daily News at year’s end and the arrival of Ashley Vansant next year portend changes at The Voice of the Pamlico.

The day McKeithan announced his decision to leave the newspaper for a position with PotashCorp-Aurora, an atmosphere of sadness and disbelief, to some degree, hovered throughout the WDN offices. McKeithan was more than just a general manager, publisher and president. He was a visitor when a member of the WDN family was hospitalized. His door — not to mention his heart — was always open to his co-workers. His grin, usually accompanied by a timely, humorous remark (often at his expense), is infectious.

His co-workers know the countless hours he spent working to make the newspaper better since he came to the Daily News in the summer of 2001. Although the future of newspapers, especially small newspapers, remains cloudy, McKeithan continually worked to keep the Daily News coming off the press. He made those tough decisions that needed to be made, decisions that sometimes did not sit well with co-workers and WDN readers. But as other newspapers across the nation and world continue to cease publication, the Daily News continues.

That says a lot about McKeithan’s influence at the Daily News since his arrival a little more than 10 years ago.

Thanks for that influence, and memories, Ray.

With the onset of 2012, the Daily News family turns to Vansant to provide the vision and leadership needed to keep the newspaper an integral, vital part of the community. What should be of note to that community and the Daily News family is that Vansant wants to be a contributing part of the community and the newspaper.

That speaks volumes.

We expect Vansant will want to use the community to improve the newspaper and use the newspaper to improve the community. His track record at other publications he’s served is impressive. Under his direction, the Daily News will continue to serve as The Voice of the Pamlico.

But it’s the record he will make at the Daily News that this community should anticipate, with that anticipation being that the newspaper — to borrow a phrase — will be “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

The departure of McKeithan closes an era in the history of the Daily News. The arrival of Vansant begins a new era in the history of the Daily News.

It’s sad to say goodbye to one era, but that sadness is tempered with the promise of a new era.