– Alexander Shedd replaces Shawn Nowlin as the editor of the Salem Times Register –
By Shawn Nowlin Contributing writer
August 2016 is a month that I will never forget. During those 31 days, many notable things occurred in my life, most notably getting hired at age 27 by Michael Showell, owner of Mountain Media, to replace Kelsey Bartlett as the editor of the Salem Times Register newspaper. Kelsey could not have been more supportive and accommodating during the transition period. I asked her countless questions, and she was always gracious with her time, knowledge and resources.
Prior to starting my first day, one of my best friends, who also happens to be a writer, gave me some sage advice: “Shawn, be accessible to the Salem community, take accountability when you make a mistake, have fun on the job and most importantly, never take anything personal.” While it would be a lie to say that there were no stressful moments or I was never pushed to the edge, at the end of the day, the low moments pale in comparison to all the awesome memories that I was able to experience.
Last week, this chapter in my life came to an end. Being the first African American in the company’s history to hold this position is something that I never took for granted. Never was this truer than when students of color would reach out to me and say my presence in this position encouraged them to pursue a writing career.
I’d say I conservatively interviewed more than 5,000 people since 2016 for the Salem Times Register. Narrowing the list down was extremely difficult, but some of my favorite memories would have to be Olde Salem Days, the Annual Christmas Parade, Salem High and Roanoke College graduation ceremonies as well as getting a chance to interview Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Ralph Northam.
In this line of work, relationships are everything. As anyone who has co-workers can attest, nobody accomplishes things solely by themselves. While my name appeared on the front page every week, without the hard work of so many other Salem Tomes Register employees, this paper would cease to exist. I want to thank Mike Stevens, Meg Hibbert, Kimberly Wingfield, Teresa Gereaux, Fran Ferguson, Jamonda Nowlin, Samira Fudge, Alicia Petska, Jazmine Otey, Renita Anene, John Saunders, Wendy Deleno and so many others for all their assistance, perspective and patience over the years.
My successor is Alexander Shedd, a 2020 George Mason University graduate. No stranger to journalism, Alex previously edited the student paper at GMU, and growing up, Alex’s mother ran a proofreading service.
The first time I met Alex was in March at Sweet Donkey Coffee in Roanoke. When I asked him why he applied for this job, his response spoke volumes. I left our meeting extremely impressed with his candor, perspective, background experience and professionalism. It will take him some time to get acclimated to the Salem community, but I have no doubt that sooner rather than later, Alex will exceed even his own expectations.
While I no longer serve in the capacity of newspaper editor, I will still be submitting articles regularly. My new writing occupation will require me to sometimes work in North Carolina, but I’ll also be working remotely out of my Roanoke apartment.
The Salem Times Register provided me with something that no other job did previously: the ability to say that my passion is my full-time profession. Through this job, I’ve cultivated many relationships that I hope will last for a lifetime.
Words can’t express how appreciative I am of all the phone calls, text messages and well-wishes I’ve received over the last month. To the community of Salem, serving as your editor has been some of the best years of my career. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!