Last week I took my first steps into a new world as features editor here at the Courier & Press.
When I was hired about two years ago as senior features writer, I knew this was the kind of paper for which I had always wanted to work.
What I didn’t realize was at that same place I would find a tremendous mentor and friend in the woman I am replacing, Linda Negro.
I find myself trying to fill some pretty big shoes.
As a newsroom, we just said goodbye to five valuable colleagues, tremendously skilled journalists with deep ties to this community. Two of those five came from my department — Linda and longtime arts and entertainment reporter Roger McBain.
Their departure is a loss we will certainly feel in the newsroom. I learned much from Linda and Roger in a short time.
Yet, this big change has also provided an opportunity for a next generation of leaders to step up. In addition to myself, two others have taken on new roles of leadership in the newsroom — Jon Webb as assistant metro editor and Erin McCracken as photo editor.
I am excited that the Courier & Press’ leadership has shown confidence in us as we work to introduce the newspaper to a new audience.
If you haven’t been a regular reader of my occasional column and daily parenting blog, here’s a quick intro. I am a native of Vincennes, have worked for newspapers all over the country for about a decade and came back to Evansville early last year. I have a family — Louisiana-native husband Michael and two little boys. Miles is a strong-willed and spirited 3-year-old who attends preschool at St. Theresa School, and Owen is a lovable two-month-old night owl obsessed with his momma and ceiling fans.
As a career journalist, I strongly believe that a newspaper must remain a vital part of any community. It is my hope that we can find a way to reach out to people my age and younger, for which to many, the newspaper is seen as a thing of the past.
I don’t think that’s true at all. And in interacting with the public I’ve discovered a number of my regular blog readers — young parents, professionals and more — who like what we as a newspaper do. I’m hoping to help even more discover this too.
This doesn’t mean we are neglecting or forgetting our established readers. We will continue to do many of the things you enjoy. Hopefully you will also enjoy the innovative and exciting storytelling and new ideas we are adding as we try to reach more people and enrich our audience.
Linda’s strong involvement in several nonprofits and service organizations has been a very important part of the newspaper’s efforts to be an engaged and vital member of the community. It’s important for me to live up to that example and continue my own dedication to community service. As a returned Peace Corps volunteer — I taught English and HIV/AIDS awareness in Bangladesh — this has always been a big part of my life.
I currently serve as the vice president on the board of directors for Project Reveal, a nonprofit that’s working to provide a voice and community for women by sharing their stories of daily struggles and survival through written, video and photo “reveals.”
My first act as editor was to hire Roger’s replacement, a huge challenge. His talent and connections are irreplaceable. But our new reporter, Kelly Gifford, has an energy and enthusiasm that will serve the arts community well. She’s excited about incorporating new storytelling techniques and will breathe new life into our coverage. Check out her weekly column, Culture Shock, on page D3.
My family and I plan to be here in Evansville for a long, long time. So I have a vested interest in seeing this community thrive and grow. I hope this paper continues to play a role in that by telling the stories that you the reader want to hear.
That’s where you come in. What kinds of stories do you want Kelly and me to tell? What changes would you like to see? I look forward to your input and working to make this paper the best we can for our readers.
Until next time.