Local native returns to first love: Journalism

Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

It’s good to call Goober Gulch home again after a little more than a quarter century away from these sandhills.

I’d like to avoid the prodigal son analogies, but they’ve nearly slipped from the lips of a few in the community anyway. So let me say up front the big world outside Portales wasn’t that bad to me. But a lot of factors did make this a great time to move back to Portales.

The item at the top of that list was the opportunity to practice community journalism in a place where I know the people, their values and their collective history. Don’t believe anyone who tells you my return to Portales has more to do with the statute of limitations. As far as I know, no warrants were ever issued.

So with the disclaimers out of the way let me introduce myself and explain how I became infected with the journalism bug.

I was born — let’s just say . . . several decades ago — at Roosevelt General Hospital. My parents, Keith and Judy Terry, swaddled me in feed sacks and took me home to my Grandad Bob’s dairy farm where they placed me in a dresser drawer. My mom will protest these facts — not that she put some of her children in the sock drawer, but that it was actually my brother Jeff and that she never intentionally shut the drawer.

That paragraph ought to just about take care of the obligatory Portales question of who my folks are, but so no one’s left out I’ll also mention my sister Kathy Mobley who lives here too.

If you check, you’ll find close to 40 entries under my surname in the Portales/Clovis phone book. They may not admit it, but most of them are related to me. If they’re male, a quick check of the hairline will give it away.

We left the farm in the early 1970s for city life in Portales. As soon as I was old enough to convince circulation manager Lewis Toland to hire me I started throwing papers for the Portales News-Tribune. The PNT became my after-school hangout and my routes supplied me with the cash to buy my first car. I worked in the mailroom and then later the pressroom while going to high school and college.

If I had to point to one event that influenced me toward making newspapers my career it would be watching the way Editor Gordon Greaves and the whole staff of the PNT pitched in during a crisis in 1978 when a huge fire in downtown Portales erupted. My part was small, just running film out to the college to be processed and printed because we had no power in our office, but somehow the pieces came together amid chaos. The coverage we delivered to doorsteps later that same day helped reassure a lot of people and I was proud.

I matured professionally and in the newspaper business during my time at the Quay County Sun in Tucumcari. It was there that I met and married my one true love Carol. Our marriage of 23 years is proof that love can overcome the marital strife of a newsman’s wife home alone with a cold dinner.

She’s followed me to Texas, Colorado and now (temporarily) to her mother-in-law’s spare room so I know she must really love me and understand the importance of newspapering in my life.

I’m sure I won’t receive the same kind of love from the PNT’s readers (Note to old girlfriends: I really am happily married) but as we get acquainted around town and through this column I hope you’ll come to understand how important it is to me and my staff that we serve this community to the highest journalism standards.

That means that if I do my job right some — maybe even my own mother at times — aren’t going to like the way I’m doing it. When those occasions arise know that my door is always open to you.