Mountain Character: For Ty Roush, 'The news is all about relationships'
For just over one year, Ty Roush has been all over town gathering information about us and our town that we needed to know. He has singlehandedly written, photographed and edited the Black Mountain News for those of us who still knew it was in operation and kept our subscriptions or visited our regular pickup spots.
Our local newspaper went the way that many small town news media have been trending, loss of revenue leading to losing staff, then being shut down or bought out by the bigger media giants. First, Multimedia, and then in 1995, Gannett purchased Black Mountain News and sister paper Asheville Citizen Times, adding its own stamp to the newspapers.
If you haven’t made Ty Roush’s acquaintance by now, it is too late. This week, Ty is moving on to fulfill a long standing plan for journalistic excellence, graduate school. This fall, he will enroll in Northwestern University School of Journalism in Chicago, where he is picking up several coveted future assignments such as coverage for the Super Bowl in January! We’ll be seeing his name there and in many places as he extends his services through his graduate program in Chicago.
Ty is from a fourth generation journalism family, and having grown up in Chapel Hill, has been on this route for a long time. He attended Auburn University undergrad in journalism, thinking the War Eagles venue would be a winning arrangement to gain experience for a future in sports journalism. And it was, but Ty fits in happily in the field of the variety of all news coverage, and as he says, “Now, whether I end up at the Super Bowl or a cornfield in Nebraska, I’ll be OK!”
All of us who have watched our paper change and finally close its doors and sell its property know of the imminent danger of small town newspapers. Can these papers survive, and can ours, I asked?
“If a small town newspaper gets the kind of support I’ve been given here, that highly threatened commodity will indeed survive," Ty said. "You have to care about the news, care about the people and care about what the people need to know. It will never make it unless those who run it understand the people.”
With those words, Ty spoke prophetically about our busy town and our growing experience.
“The tasks are so varied, and the broad demands within the area covered by its owner give legitimacy to the role of those hired," he said. "At times it makes you swallow a lot of pride and put your ego away. I spent much of my time in customer service. That means I hand delivered a lot of newspapers while the system was ironing out the bugs of a changing product and process.”
Ty reported that he had been called from the first days he came to the job.
“People knew all about the changes, about me and about their news they depended on," he said. "I learned early that I had better understand the town. That would turn out to be a key feature of our success.”
He has had many calls from local people about lost subscriptions, misplaced deliveries, and was always intrigued by long and far away calls from Florida and Alaska, etc., wondering where their expected paper had gone
Ty brought good experience to Black Mountain from his days at Auburn University. Having been selected as editor of the school newspaper as a sophomore, he served in that position for three years where he also ran a website. His aim and choice was feature articles in football and basketball, but that soon opened more widely as he worked in nearby Opelika and later for a short term in Durham.
One of the biggest changes affecting the newspaper industry is, of course, the greater use of online subscriptions. So how does a paper succeed?
“Hard work, dedication, care and love for the town. That will only come from the staff, so it’s hard to say which ones make it, which ones will not,” Ty said.
Ty’s father is currently serving as head of journalism faculty at Connecticutt’s Quinipiac University, the one we all hear so much from in their well known polls and surveys. He tells of falling in love with the sound and action of an old printing press that his grandfather had in Atlanta.
“Holding that print taught me how much he was connected to his community. I have printer’s ink in my blood!” said Ty.
Indeed he bleeds black and white, and we have been very fortunate to have shared in his skills and to have contributed to his soon well polished career in journalism.
We who have been reading his good reporting while writing with our own Black Mountain News can be proud when we read his name in years to come in features spread across this land! We wish him well in his next endeavor.