Nearly two years ago (I can't believe how fast that's gone by), I was hired by Areawide Media as a Community Reporter. Areawide was one of five papers in the state to win grants to help them keep emphasizing local reporting in an age where financial realities make it harder and harder to employ a full reporting staff.
The winning papers agreed "to try" to keep the reporters on when the grants ran out, but they didn't have to sign in blood to guarantee it. I am happy to say Areawide leaders -- Publisher Janie Flynn and Regional Manager Ron Kemp -- have worked to allow me to stay on (sorry to those who think I'm to "nosy" for small town papers).
As my tenure continues, a change has been made to help our papers do a better job of covering area news, and putting out newspapers full of real news, community events and photos that will inform and entertain.
I have become Editor of Areawide's three newspapers -- The News, Villager Journal and South Missourian. My job will be to work with reporters on what we should cover, and to insure that we are doing a complete and fair job as possible. I will be handling calls and e-mails from the public, and working to get the word out that our newspapers are the communities' newspapers, and ideas, complaints, and even a congratulation or two are invited. Public feedback is how we gauge how we are doing -- and how we can do a better job. I agreed to become editor only after being assured I will not be shuffling papers behind a desk all day. I will make enough time in my day to continue my main job -- reporting on area events and people. That is what I love to do, and you will still be seeing plenty of me out in the community.
But enough about me.
The good news is, former Editor Niki de Soto has been named Managing Editor.
Besides overseeing news coverage and managing her staff, Niki has been responsible for putting all three of our papers together each week. She also made sure stories were getting covered and written for Avenues Magazine, and put it together -- almost always under pressure to get it done and shipped to the printer. She has also been in charge of going through the 200 or 300 e-mails and press releases we get each week, and made sure community news and upcoming events are in the right papers at the right times, so that people know what's going on. She also has been in charge of updating our website, and the Areawide Marketplace website.
Those have added up to some "heaping helpings" on her plate. On Monday and Tuesday, when we put our papers together, Niki is often on the job at 5:30 a.m., and still here in the late afternoon or early evening to e-mail files of completed pages to our new printing plant in Harrison -- so our new color editions are in vending boxes and in the mail to subscribers, as expected, each week.
She never complains, but I hope my editor duties will take some of the load off Niki, and clear some time she can use for another of her talents -- reporting.
We need to figure out our new responsibilities and get busy fast, because May has a lot happening that we need to cover.
The festival season is off and running. Izard County's Pioneer Days got things going last week. Horseshoe Bend's Dogwood Days are this weekend (May 12), and the granddaddy of them all -- The Fulton County Homecoming Festival -- will be on May 26.
It is also graduation time. Farmer's markets are opening -- the new Salem Farmer's Market kicks off at 7 a.m. on Saturday, May 12. Don't forget the primary election on May 22 - early voting is going on now.
The list goes on and on , so off to work we go to cover what's happening -- good and bad -- to make sure you're an informed citizen.