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Spotlight >> The Powers Behind the Throne: Debbie King/Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

“This is an entirely different job than when I first started.”

Spotlight feature photo
Debbie King, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
Photo by MIKE HASKEY/Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

When Debbie King began working at the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer in 1980 as secretary to the general manager, her job consisted mainly of taking dictation and typing – and she liked it that way.

“I wanted to be a secretary. I loved all that,” she said. “I probably wouldn’t have admitted that at the time, but it was true.”

But after working for four publishers since then, King’s job has changed along with the newspaper’s management. “My boss today [Publisher Pam Siddall] would tell you that I’m her partner,” King said.

Siddall says that’s true. In her first job as publisher, she said, her assistant has made that transition so much easier for her. “Debbie has worked here so long and has institutional knowledge you can’t put a price on,” Siddall said. “She gives me good advice. I have complete confidence that when something happens, she knows how to handle it.”

These days, a typical day for King involves not taking dictation but composing letters along lines suggested by Siddall, then giving them to the publisher to approve. Often, Siddall clips articles from the paper and asks King to compose a note to the people involved. “We end up doing so much more correspondence with the public because of the confidence I have in Debbie’s abilities,” Siddall said.

Along with the director of human resources, King also produces a weekly company newsletter, which has required her to learn new skills such as writing according to Associated Press style. “She’s very picky about how the newsletter looks and feels,” Siddall said. “It’s her baby.”

Beginning each year in January, King spends months organizing the newspaper’s Page One Awards, a scholarship program that honors outstanding high-school seniors and teachers.

And, as her various bosses have been involved in the community, so is she. “I’m on a first-name basis with a lot of community leaders and their assistants,” she said, and her 20-year membership in an organization for administrative professionals means she’s connected with the people who really count: those who, like herself, handle the scheduling for Columbus’ movers and shakers.

Although all this has taken King out of her original comfort zone, she says she has learned to appreciate the chance to grow – as well as the increased salary that has come with her additional responsibilities.

“This is an entirely different job than when I first started,” she admits. “But as it has evolved, I really have enjoyed it.”

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