I recently introduced myself to a stranger and said the usual, “Hi. I’m the new editor at The Post-Record.” They asked how long I’d worked here.
“Six months!” The stranger gave me a weird look: “So … you’re not really ‘new’ are you?”
I agreed with them, but inside I was laughing, because, as I’ve learned, six months is nothing for a Post-Record employee.
When I took over in April, I inherited an editorial staff with a combined work history of 40 years among the three of them. Unlike many weekly newspapers, where reporters and editors cycle through on their way to bigger papers or better paying gigs, this paper has had a loyal editorial team for a very long time.
But change is inevitable, even for The Post-Record, and we have a lot of changes happening right now.
SAYING HELLO — If we haven’t yet met, here are a few highlights about your local paper’s new managing editor: I grew up in a central Pennsylvania steel mill town roughly the size of Washougal, but without anything remotely urban nearby (think Amish farms and Appalachian mountains instead of Vancouver brewpubs or even Camas cafes); moved to Portland when I was 17, majored in journalism at the University of Oregon, have worked as a community journalist for 21 years, am the proud mother of a 15-year-old vegetarian who loves all things fauna, and am happiest when I’m outside (preferably near water) with my daughter and dogs, on an interesting interview, or immersed in a new book. I’m very excited to be in this new position and look forward to covering the Camas-Washougal community and making The Post-Record your go-to news source for local information.
SAYING GOODBYE — Our reporting staff is going through quite a few changes right now. One of the biggest happened this week, when we said goodbye to our wonderful education/features reporter, Danielle Frost, who is headed to a new writing adventure in Oregon. For those who don’t know Danielle, she is the sort of reporter who has a knack for connecting on a deeper level with her interview subjects and can always find an interesting human element for her stories. To say she will be missed around here — especially by coworkers who have watched her little boy grow up these past nine years — is an understatement, and we wish her the best of luck in her new job.
We are taking this opportunity to revamp how we report the news here at The Post-Record. Currently, we are on the hunt for a new “lead reporter,” who will take on a great deal of this paper’s hard news reporting and help us maintain our role as government watchdogs. Other reporters will have new or different responsibilities. As the editor, I will lead the charge and trade my page-design responsibilities for more time in the community, gathering and reporting local news and working on more in-depth articles.
CHANGING THE WAY WE WORK — It’s not an easy time to be a community news reporter. The Great Recession took a lot out of this industry. Between 2007 and 2015, newspaper reporting jobs decreased by almost 40 percent and at least 100 dailies shut their doors completely. “Newspaper reporter” has been on lists of “least desirable jobs” for a number of years, due to a mix of few job openings, low pay, long hours, high stress and never-ending workload. So, why do we do it? Love, actually: We love being a part of the action. We love meeting new people. We love telling their stories. And we especially love it when our work affects positive change in the community.
For community newspapers like The Post-Record to make it in a world where people go straight to Twitter for their news, we need to give our readers news they can’t find anywhere else and we have to connect what’s going on locally to the larger world. The days of just re-phrasing what went on at a city council or school board meeting are over. We need to help readers understand how these types of local decisions could affect their daily lives.
We also have to to help Camas-Washougal residents connect to each other and to the area’s schools, government officials, nonprofits and businesses.
To do that, we need to hear from our readers about how to be a better voice for this community. Have ideas? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.