One April 2018 evening at the Bistro on the Loup I was involved in one of the most productive and interesting conversations I’ve ever had.
With me were Telegram Regional Publisher Vincent Laboy and several active community members telling me all about Columbus and what it had to offer. At the time, I was working out in Colorado and seriously considering taking the job as managing editor of The Telegram, Schuyler Sun and David City Banner-Press.
They told me what they liked about the Telegram, what they didn’t like and what needed to be improved. They were honest, which I greatly appreciated. I told them all then that if I accepted the job, I would do my best to make the Telegram a true community newspaper. This is where I knew I needed to be, so I accepted the offer and moved my family to Columbus, Nebraska, eager to take on the challenge.
Not long after relocating and getting settled, Laboy and I had lunch at one of the Subway restaurants in town, where we had a prolific brainstorming session based on community feedback and outlined what we wanted to accomplish using a napkin for our notes.
Fast forward to today, it’s easy for me to say these last three or so years have been the most rewarding of my 13-year career. I’ve worked with a ton of great people on the team and feel so fortunate to have met many wonderful community members who, in many cases, have become friends.
We had a goal to provide our readers a community newspaper they could rely on and enjoy. We restructured our approach by determining what mattered most to our readers as far as coverage and how to provide it not only in print but online mediums such as video.
We’ve told countless stories about people and businesses from all walks of life that call our area home. We've covered the good, the bad and the ugly, including launching our well-received “Community Champions” series, covering various events, the historic flooding of 2019 and its aftermath, the COVID-19 pandemic and more.
We prioritized LOCAL content. Oftentimes I’ve had people compliment me by saying “thank you for focusing on the positive.” I always am appreciative; however, there was never a decision to make our content more positive. We just wanted it to be more reflective of the community. So yes, we’ve loved going out and sharing stories that are positive in nature. But, we haven’t been shy in having to cover the tough stuff, such as a police officer shooting, face mask drama, business closures, house fires and arrests, among other things.
I’m proud of those in the newsroom I’ve had the chance to work with - those who are still here and those who have moved on. Collectively, we’ve won numerous Nebraska Press Association honors for our work. But, what has meant the most are the many phone calls and emails we’ve received from our readers or those who have stopped us around town throughout these last three years and complimented our efforts.
It really has been a fun and wild ride.
But, every ride has an end.
This week, I resigned as managing editor of The Columbus Telegram, Schuyler Sun and David City Banner-Press; as well as executive editor of Wahoo Newspaper, The Ashland Gazette and Waverly News. It will bring to a close a fun, sometimes stressful but always productive 13-year career in professional journalism on Aug. 6.
It has been an incredible journey. I’ve had the opportunity to interview a wide array of people throughout the years, including a 2016 presidential candidate, world-renowned musicians, comedians and artists, governors, state senators to city councilors, other public servants, small business owners, coaches, prep, college and professional athletes, educators, parents, youth and ministers. Although all of their stories have been completely different, those interviews and experiences helped shape my career.
These last three years have been the most enjoyable of my career by far because of our readers and community members I’ve gotten the chance to get to know. But, my coworkers throughout the entire building have also been an amazing part of it. There are a lot of good people here who care about what they do and take pride in it. It starts with Regional Publisher Vincent Laboy, who I mentioned earlier. He has been a great leader, mentor and friend. He’s also someone who cares about the community, his employees and leads by example. He’s always going above and beyond.
I want to thank the community for their support and for welcoming the Lindberg family to Columbus. This is home, and I’m happy to report it will stay our home. I’m looking forward to taking on new and exciting challenges with my next opportunity in Columbus. I hope you’ll be sure to say hello when you see me around town, as I plan to be an active community member continuing to help grow the city of power and progress.
As always, thank you for reading!
Matt Lindberg is the managing editor of The Columbus Telegram. He can be reached until Aug. 6 at email@example.com.