We revamped the Opinion page — well, resurrected it — in August 2012, but only recently, I believe, has the page reached its maximum potential.
I always envisioned A4 as the place North Okaloosa residents could call their own. We in the newsroom monopolize enough of the A section with our words, bylines and mugshots, which is odd since you, our readers, buy the paper and inspire the stories in it.
So we tried several things to drive that message — that we care about what you think — home. In time, more letters to the editor started trickling in and the page gradually evolved, but something always seemed missing. Something that anchors the page.
Then, a couple of months ago, we met Crestview resident Ryan Massengill, and things started to crystallize.
Ryan Massengill is the man behind the News Bulletin's editorial cartoons. This week's cartoon depicts the need to give to North Okaloosa charitable organizations when Christmas shopping.
Ryan, a Brunswick, Ga., native, knew his passion — to draw — early on. Our sister newspaper, the Destin Log, published his first cartoon in 1994, when he was 7. The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C., published Ryan's editorial cartoons from 2001-2004.
He took a break after that to focus on college, but now, the 2011 Coastal Carolina University graduate, who has a bachelor's in Communication and Journalism, is contributing to the News Bulletin. And we are so pleased he has shared his talents.
Each Thursday, the editorial department offers tips on which are the most interesting local news stories and public service opportunities. From there, we all consider ideas that Ryan could sketch commentary on. The department passes notes here and there, but the cartoon's composition and the finished product is all Ryan.
And it makes Monday mornings such a treat! I arrive at work, round the bend to my office and see a folder concealing the latest cartoon resting on my desk. It's like a wrapped present.
"I think editorial cartoons are an excellent medium to reach people in many ways," Ryan says. "They can help drive home the message of a column or editorial piece, or simply provide a smile.
"Amidst the fast-paced and hyper-connected world of today, the simplicity of a cartoon that can evoke a laugh or smile is a great thing."
It's journalism in its fastest form, too. And we greatly appreciate Ryan's contributions, as the Opinion page, after a year in transition, finally has its anchor.