It’s been a year since the Oxford Citizen was first published and introduced to Oxford-Lafayette County residents.<>

Double Decker was the focus of the first edition, just as the festival is the focus of today’s edition.

Double Decker is a celebrated event, a time on the calendar that is cherished by so many. The

Citizen was born and presented on one of the biggest days for the area because of what it signified. It was the start of something bigger, more impactful than anything that had ever been accomplished in this area from a publication/distribution of newsprint standpoint.

Since that initial publication, which was sent to every mailbox in the county, the product has grown tremendously.

A year ago, the Citizen was published once a week, and it was distributed on Fridays.

Now, it’s out a day ahead of Double Decker, and published twice a week, with a recap of Oxford’s biggest attraction coming on Sunday.

The past year has been the most enjoyable of my 18-year professional career in journalism and it’s because the Citizen is a part of me. What readers see in the pages is what I’ve always wanted to do and wasn’t able to, or encouraged to, do in the past. There are no handcuffs, no borders, no lines. The most impactful stories of my career have been accumulated here in this publication. The impact has been enormous and I thank you, the readers, for that.

With the Citizen going to 25,000 residences, there has never been more people who know about our local athletes. A month into this job, I wrote a lengthy feature on Oxford tennis coach Louis Nash. A day or two later, I called Nash, to see what he thought of the story.

It was out a week after the Chargers had won yet another state championship, and Nash was getting set for the summer. Before he could get from his van to the court to conduct the workouts, he told me that he had more people coming up to him, congratulating him for the team winning than he could ever remember.

The next day, walking around the Square, Nash said he dealt with another wave of well wishers, some of them coming from people he hadn’t seen in years. Nash later told me he had never seen that big of an impact, that much feedback from one of my articles before.

The story was impactful to me as well since Nash was a regular subject. Tennis is important here in Oxford, like a lot of sports are, but the reaction was unprecedented. That’s when I knew how impactful the Citizen really was, how big of a role it was playing at not much more than a month old. It was the tip of the iceberg of things to come, things to cover and thankfully, those type of special moments have been plentiful over the past year.

Ole Miss advanced to the College World Series and the features completed from Omaha led to several friendships, as well as a job in media for one of the tailgaters I interviewed. The ability to capture color images and words together painted a unique backdrop during football season, especially when it came time to highlight the story of Brad Gaines, who told me I was the only print reporter he had ever let watch him clean the grave of Chucky Mullins. It was a moving story and one that I will never forget. Many of you who emailed me didn’t realize the gravity of his dedication until that article was published.

A large contingent of readers isn’t the only great thing about the Citizen for me. Time spent with business owners and advertisers has been absolutely unbelievable. It’s the little things that separate those who have supported us from everyone else, and I thank all of those that have allowed me to find out all the little things about them each week. Everyone has a story, and the time spent with the members of the community that work very hard each and every day has been as special to me as anything else I have ever done.

It’s been a very busy year, but a very rewarding one. The Citizen has provided me with experiences I only dreamed of for area residents. I’m grateful that the ownership of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal has given us all the green light to pursue excellence. That’s what this community deserves and that’s what the goal will be each and every day moving forward.

John Davis is the Oxford Citizen sports editor. He can be reached at john.davis@journalinc.com. Follow him on Twitter at @oxfordcitizenjd.

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