'Ahe'hee' Serving the people for 12 years

By Duane A. Beyal
Special to Navajo Times

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I thank the Navajo people for the honor of serving you for the past 12 years as editor of the Navajo Times.

My last full day of work was July 6, almost exactly 12 years to the day from when I started as editor in 2000.

I decided to leave now, and have considered it since I hit the 10-year mark in 2010, because I feel I've had my shot at trying to improve the newspaper and produce the best product we can every week.

I have not achieved the goals I aimed at, in terms of quality and general excellence, so it is time for me to step aside and let someone new give it a try. I hope the new editor, whomever that may be, can be more successful.

My leaving is for the good of the company and my personal feeling is that I am ready for a change and to explore new opportunities.

I do not believe in holding onto a job - especially one that serves the public - if it does not provide professional satisfaction and the fulfillment that I am truly serving the people.

If the Times had achieved the brilliance it has the potential for, that would have provided justification for me to stay.

Although we win awards every year, from individual awards to overall newspaper awards, that just shows how much better our product can be.

The Navajo Times, at which I got my first real job in 1980 as a copy editor, for most of its existence was a department of the Navajo Nation government. But myself and other editors always operated as a true newspaper according to the principles of journalism and not under the control of any division director, chairman, president or tribal council. We endured the consequences of our posture.

In 2003, the Navajo Nation Council approved spinning off the Times as a corporation and separating its operations from the government. This is a unique setup because while the company is independent from the bureaucracy, it is still owned by the shareholders, the Navajo people. In other words, the Times as a separate entity remains under the umbrella of the Navajo Nation and its sovereignty.

For this reason, every time I describe the newspaper to staff and visitors, I say it is a public trust. We work for the people and that is the principle I have tried to uphold since I began serving in this position.

Once again, I am honored to have had the privilege and opportunity to serve you as editor of the Navajo Times.

It's the best job in the world and I have learned a lot and gained from the experience.