I'm going to attempt to keep this short, but I wanted to make sure I reached out to everyone on the site. The wonderful Oak Forest Patch Facebook fans have heard the news already, but in case you're not a fan (why aren't you?!), here goes:
I'm no longer the lucky journalist who has the pleasure of running Oak Forest Patch.
After just over a year—one filled with supportive readers, breaking news, heartwarming (and heartbreaking) stories—I'm moving on to a different role within Patch. Despite my excitement to assume new responsibilities and help Patch flourish in other areas, this moment is quite bittersweet. (But before I continue, let me stress that Oak Forest Patch isn't going anywhere! So don't you dare stop reading!)
OK, back to the sappiness. ... The job of a Patch editor is a quirky one. Our days are packed with people and their moments: the good, the bad, the ugly. We witness their trials and their triumphs, and try to tell their stories with accuracy always, sensitivity when necessary and tact where required. We chip away at the issues that matter and search for answers when readers need them. But truthfully, that's the job of any journalist.
That's not specific to the folks who run your local Patch sites.
Here's where the gig gets tricky. Patch is about so much more than just spilling information onto a website. It's a simple task, to tell you what we think you should know. It's easy to talk at people. Anyone can do that.
What I love most about Patch is, that just doesn't cut it. From the day we move into our towns and venture out to meet the head honchos, Patch editors throw ourselves into the job. We take a deep breath and dive into our towns, and hope we don't belly flop. We put our work—and ourselves—out there, with this mad hope that someone latches on. We ask for readers' opinions, and hold our breath waiting for your answers. Because we want to give you what you want. Because this is your hometown: Your life. Your family and home. Your kids and their schools. And we know that we're only one half of the equation. Patch is a conversation, and we so fervently hope you'll sit down and chat with us.
What I'm saying, in a very long-winded way, is thank you. Thank you for showing me how Patch can work in a community. Perhaps without even realizing it, you've demonstrated how people can use Patch to connect with each other, and their editor. You've shown how, if editors listen, a Patch site can blossom into not only a "news website," but an online community. Through the site, you've learned about each other and comforted each other; you've debated, or agreed to disagree. This site has taken on a life of its own, and it's entirely because of you. And it's been absolutely amazing to witness.
For the time being, fellow journalist Jeff Graveline will man the site. I encourage you to get to know him (he's a great guy!) and email him with any story ideas, tips or helpful tidbits. I know he'd love to hear from you.
You'll see my name pop up on the site occasionally, as I'll still be writing for the south suburban region of Patch, only now as Associate Regional Editor.
Oak Forest, it's been an absolute pleasure, and I intend to stop in often. I'll see you at Oak Fest (and at the new dog park. And at next year's Fleadh. And at the Christmas tree lighting).