My job offers me a unique perspective on life, especially when it comes to this time of the year. The past 12 months of my experiences and conversations are quite literally filed away neatly on a computer server.

If I need to recall what I was doing in March, I simply double click the appropriate icon and a flood of files handily reminds me of my actions and activities during that particular month. It’s a pretty handy and an incredible way for me to track my progress and failures each calendar year.

Back in January, I used this very space to excitedly introduce the new layout, format and look of Watermark. Our ambitious redesign served multiple purposes, but its overall goal was to put a brighter spotlight on local and national news directly affecting the LGBT community. At the dawn of an election year, the timing seemed right to fine-tune our focus and to better link the newspaper with our online edition.

As we slipped into our new skin, we discovered some aspects of the New Watermark worked and others didn’t. Our Talking Points page, for example, had a much wordier title in January and we learned that with LGBTs making news around the globe, confining Nation, World and State news to one page was impossible.

But overall, the evolution of the paper was successful and we produced 26 solid issues featuring 28 different covers since two issues had region-specific photos out front. Our covers ranged in subject matter and a majority of them focused locally rather than nationally. That’s not to say we didn’t have a few celebrities staring at you from the news stand. In all, 19 of those 28 covers featured original photos from our contributing photographers or original, conceptual drawings from our art director, Jake Stevens.

That’s quite a feat, especially considering the size of our staff here at Watermark, the quick turn-around time we utilize for each biweekly issue and the number of specialty publications we produce the St. Pete Pride guide, the Come Out With Pride Guide, the Holiday Gift Guide, etc.

In short, I dub 2012 a success professionally.

Of course, success always comes with its bumps and bruises. Taking a harder line on news meant writing stories that didn’t always shine favorably on the LGBT community or at least portions of it. All news is not necessarily good news, as they say, and some intense phone calls and email exchanges with members of the community expressing disappointment in our reporting kept me busy part of the year.

Our new focus also meant that in an election year, we covered angles of events and issues with which a majority of our readers disagreed.

The Republican National Convention gave us a chance to interview the national political leaders of the Log Cabin Republicans and the GOProud organization, both of which endorsed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, despite his stance opposing marriage equality. This year gave us the opportunity to delve deeper into local elections and learn what candidates really thought about LGBT issues and our rights and on election night, we were able to cover local and national races live through our Facebook page, even jokingly sharing the number of votes cast for Rosanne Barr’s presidential bid.

This past August marked three years for me as editor of this publication, and each and every issue provides a learning opportunity to improve our coverage, our reputation in the community and our ability to report the news.

I’m excited for 2013 and admittedly, a little anxious. As we approached 2012, we knew election news would keep us occupied in each and every issue. With those ballots now counted, we look forward to a year of countless possibilities, news stories, tragedies, celebrations and interviews.

My goal throughout the next 12 months is to ensure Watermark remains a voice in the LGBT community and the community at large while maintaining the journalistic integrity we’ve worked so hard to maintain for 18 years.

Happy Holidays to you and to your family both biologically and independently selected. Here’s hoping that your 2012 was as enjoyable as it was for us and that 2013 will bring great things for you, yours and LGBTs the world over.

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