From the Editor: New team, same mission; Steamboat Pilot & Today announces staff additions
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — I’m excited to share the Steamboat Pilot & Today will be welcoming several new members to the editorial team in the coming weeks.
It’s the reality of the news business that smaller daily newspapers often serve as training grounds. Journalists work several years at a smaller publication and then move on to larger papers or bigger opportunities. We’ve been fortunate that staff members tend to last a few years longer here.
Change is inevitable, and this summer, several veteran reporters, with tenures of eight, 10 and nearly 40 years, will be leaving us.
Longtime reporter and former managing editor Tom Ross is retiring after a storied career that’s made him an icon in the community he’s covered for four decades. I’m pleased to share with our readers that Tom will continue to contribute to the paper with regular columns, which we think is great news.
Government reporter Scott Franz left last month to hike the Pacific Coast Trail, a longtime goal of his; Teresa Ristow was recruited to be the digital engagement editor at the Greeley Tribune, which is a sister paper and Swift Communication’s largest daily; and sports editor Joel Reichenberger will be a senior editor at a national agriculture publication. Since Joel’s new gig is a location-neutral job, he’ll remain in town, and after the superb Olympics coverage he provided this winter, I’m sure you’ll be happy to know that he’s agreed to do some freelance work for us in the future.
I am immensely proud of the work Tom, Joel, Scott and Teresa have done for the Steamboat Pilot & Today and grateful for their dedication to community journalism. They leave behind big shoes to fill, but I’m pleased we’ll be adding to our roster of talented journalists, and none of them are rookies.
Nicole Miller, who worked at the newspaper as copy editor, news editor and assistant editor from 2006 to 2013, has returned to the newsroom as digital engagement editor after four years at Steamboat Resort as the ski area’s digital communications manager and social media specialist. It’s Nicole’s job to guide our digital efforts and build audience engagement, and we are thrilled to have her back as a newsroom leader.
Eleanor Hasenbeck, a graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, begins work Monday and will focus on government coverage. She is not new to Northwest Colorado and the Yampa Valley having been the government and energy reporter at the Craig Press the past year. In addition to covering local government, Eleanor will also be writing about agriculture and the environment.
Leah Vann joins the Steamboat Pilot & Today as sports editor the last week of June. Leah comes to Steamboat from the Globe Gazette, a mid-sized daily newspaper in Mason City, Iowa, where she was first a sports writer and last year was named sports editor. She is a University of Texas-Austin graduate, and while not from Colorado, she’s been visiting the state since she learned to ski at age 5.
Kari Harden, a Colorado-raised journalist who worked for newspapers in New Orleans before relocating to South Routt last year, has been hired to cover education and health, and Steamboat resident Frances Hohl will become a weekly contributing writer focusing on real estate, housing and general assignment reporting.
They will join lead photographer and reporter John F. Russell, courts and crime reporter Matt Stensland, arts and entertainment editor Audrey Dwyer and magazines editor Eugene Buchanan, who have a combined 50 years of experience here. The news team also includes the three-person copy desk/page design team of Michael Armstrong, Mackenzie Hicks and Evening Editor Katie Berning.
Saying good-bye to talented co-workers is bittersweet. I’m excited to watch them step out to build their careers, work on new projects or embark on their life’s next chapter but I’m always sad to see them go.
But after more than 25 years in this business, I’ve learned change is constant, and more often than not, it provides an opportunity for growth, fresh perspective and rebirth. And as Tom Ross pointed out at this morning’s Coffee and a Newspaper, the important role that community newspapers play in towns like Steamboat Springs transcends individual reporters or photographers or editors.
At the end of June there will be a dozen people in the newsroom, which is actually one more than we had on staff two years ago. No doubt many of our readers are aware of the challenges seen most recently at The Denver Post and at so many other newspapers where cutting reporting jobs seems to be occurring daily.
Because of that, I think it’s important to note that Swift Communications, which acquired the Pilot & Today over a year and a half ago, is not a hedge fund owner motivated by greed but is a family-owned company that continues to invest in community newspapers, especially in mountain resort markets. They value the autonomy of their local news organizations and are respected stewards of great community journalism.
If you’re interested to know more about Swift, there is a great article about Swift Communication’s Colorado resort operations that appeared in PressNext magazine earlier this year. Here’s a link to the story, which begins on page 16: http://online.publicationprinters.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?pubname=&edid=ab9a9249-cde9-4cf8-9962-a69d5d2776f5.
And maybe, because I wanted to focus this column on the newsroom, I’m guilty of burying an important piece of the story. Our new publisher will be joining the team next week. His name is Logan Molen, he’s coming to Steamboat from Eugene, Oregon, and on Monday, we’ll offer our readers the full story, so be sure to look for it.
Later this summer, the Steamboat Pilot & Today will host a News and Brews event to give community members an opportunity to meet new members of the news team, as well as our new publisher, and we’re also looking forward to the newspaper’s move back to downtown during the latter part of July.
But in the meantime, if anyone has questions about the newspaper, our website, the content we’re producing or our newsroom staffing, please don’t hesitate to email me at lschlichtman@SteamboatToday.com or call me at 970-871-4221. I’d love the opportunity to chat about my favorite subject.
To reach Lisa Schlichtman, call 970-871-4221, email lschlichtman@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @lschlichtman.
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