Ben Stansell: Thank you, Salisbury

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 5, 2022

My favorite part of the writing process is crafting the lede.

Those critical first few sentences are meant to draw the reader in and set the stone for the rest of the story to come. And nothing feels better than landing on a start I’m happy with. Rarely did I come up with a good lede sitting in front of my computer. The best ones came when I was jogging down South Fulton Street or walking to work through my beautiful neighborhood.

None of those spots had been working for me lately. For weeks, I’ve been turning over words in my mind, looking for just the right way to start this article.

It’s hard say goodbye.

Over the last two years, I’ve spent what feels like the majority of my waking hours attempting to accurately and fairly capture the stories of Salisbury and Rowan County. 

I’m sure I haven’t always done that in the thousand or so stories I’ve written. And for that, I’m sorry. There are also plenty of stories left unwritten. For its size, Salisbury and its surrounding communities have a lot to write about.

Regardless of my follies, most people have shown me an immense amount of kindness. I’m forever grateful to those who opened up to a young reporter, sharing their troubles, gripes, sorrows, joys, successes. I’m equally grateful to those who took time to share a word of encouragement with me, or those who said they enjoyed reading an article. Every single kind word meant more to me than anyone could know. 

Those words truly kept me going, especially in those first few months when turning in two stories each day felt like running uphill in an avalanche.

Other things kept me going too. Like Patterson Farm strawberries, still warm after being plucked from the western Rowan County fields just hours before. Or a Georgia Mud blizzard, handed to me from the walk-up window of the West Innes Street Dairy Queen. That ice cream establishment should be cherished and protected at all costs. Or the encouragement from the legendary Mike London, who, crouched over “Mr. Computer,” would implore me to “never give up.” He certainly never has in the decades he’s worked for the Post. 

Mike is one of many people who made the Post such a special place to work. I’ll miss all of my coworkers. That’s not something everyone can say. 

Like many places, the Salisbury Post has seen its fair share of turnover over the last few years. But I know the people working there now are doing their best to report the news, like I did and so many people before me have. They deserve all the support you can give.

Working in news can easily get you down. If it isn’t having to report on tragedies or the long hours, it’s the calls from people who need to take their anger out on someone and happen to have the newsroom’s number on speed dial.

Still, getting to be a reporter has been a privilege. You get to know more about your community than most people and you’re learning every single day. You have the opportunity to cover important, meaningful events such as elections and the local effects of a global pandemic. I covered plenty of fun, light-hearted stories as well, like Farmers Day down in China Grove and a Revolutionary War reenactment at the Old Stone House.

I’m eternally grateful for anyone and everyone who took the time to educate me, entertain my questions, answer my emails and pause whatever they were working on to help me. I may sound like an award-winning actor being played off the stage, but there are truly too many people for me to thank.

It’s bittersweet to leave Salisbury, but that’s what I’ve done.

I’ve moved about 140 miles southwest on I-85 to Greenville. Several people have told me that Paul Fisher loved this city. In a 2009 Mark Wineka article about Salisbury leaders visiting Greenville, Fisher was quoted as telling Salisburians to “steal everything you can” during the trip. I’m hoping to give some Salisbury back.

Thanks for reading.

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About Ben Stansell

Ben Stansell covers business, county government and more for the Salisbury Post. He joined the staff in August 2020 after graduating from the University of Alabama. Email him at ben.stansell@salisburypost.com.

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