On May 12, Editor Michael Armstrong celebrated 20 years at the Homer News.
“It’s been a lot of stubbornness, perseverance and staying put,” Armstrong said of his milestone. “There is obviously the work, doing the job and doing it well over the years.”
Armstrong joined the Homer News team in 1999, when the Homer newspaper was owned by Howard Simons, a managing editor at the Washington Post. Armstrong started with the Homer News as an editorial assistant and had a small role to play in the many departments of the newspaper, not just the newsroom, setting him up well for when he took over as editor in July of 2017.
“I did a lot of newsroom work, classifieds and answer the phones,” he said. “I even rolled quarters on Thursday.”
In his early years, he kept putting his name in the ring when reporter positions would open up but “nobody bit,” he said. Then, in 2003, he became a general assignment reporter and stuck with it.
“The size of the newsroom kept getting smaller and smaller,” he said. “Then eventually the (former editor) left and I was asked ‘do you want to be driving the bus or on the bus?’ I wanted to drive the bus,” Armstrong said, on segueing into the editor position.
In the newsroom and out, Armstrong is a writer. He’s had several books published, including a “goofy, alien abduction novel” called Truck Stop Earth.
“I’ve pretty much always been or wanted to be a writer,” he said. “I’ve done fiction writing, short stories and other stuff. The nice thing about journalism is that it satisfies my needs to use words and I also exercise the story writing part of my brain. In fiction, I make up the stories; with journalism I get to report stuff that has actually happened.”
Armstrong also said that living and working in a small town has added to his career with the Homer News. Originally from Florida, he has lived in Homer longer than he’s lived anywhere else.
“You’re telling the story of your community and your neighbors, the people who live here,” Armstrong said. “It’s like you’re embedded in this big novel that is happening around you. I like doing that and I love Homer.”
When he’s not writing, Michael plays in a local Marimba band named Shamwari, goes on walks or beachcombs with his dog Princess Leia or travels or camps with his wife.
“I tell people I married and fell in love with my wife because she likes to read and she likes to camp,” Michael said. The pair recently purchased a Volkswagon Eurovan to camp in all summer long.
Armstrong will be celebrating another anniversary this December, 40 years living in Alaska.
“I’m honored to have been here, in Alaska and at the Homer News, for this long,” he said. “The work has always been fulfilling and I’ve come to make a community in Homer … I love the people. I love this town. I keep doing it because I want to tell the story of Homer and I think I can tell it pretty well.”