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John White: Taking stock after six months at the helm

I’ve managed to surpass the six month milestone as regional editor for Black Press.
John holds his hand-made custom bowl from Soup For the Cultured Soul. (John K. White/Castlegar New file)

I’ve managed to surpass the six month milestone as regional editor for Black Press.

As I did after the three-month period passed, I thought I’d take stock of our progress. Let’s start with my original goals:

1. Be an active mentor to the reporters at the papers I manage

Chelsea Novak and Betsy Kline are a formidable duo covering Rossland and Castlegar. You may not realize how lucky you are to have such strong reporters in a small city newsroom. Normally, that kind of talent is snapped up by larger centres, so let’s stop and revel in that fortunate reality.

Our collaboration grows stronger each week, as I build my institutional knowledge of Black Press and the nuance in covering the communities in my area, and Betsy and Chelsea feed off of my experience and energy. They return the favour by digging into stories and event coverage with real enthusiasm, and that energy transfers back to me. You, as readers, get to enjoy the fruits of that symbiotic relationship each week in the papers and online each day.

Kathleen Saylors in Grand Forks and Greenwood has been a revelation. She has impeccable news judgment and is quickly becoming a force as a reporter. She needs very little guidance from me. Even so, our interactions are instructional and empowering, and she’s managed to bring many major stories to the public consciousness over the last few months.

Newly-hired multimedia reporter Andreea Myhal has been covering Nakusp and area for the Arrow Lakes News since the departure of Jillian Trainor. Andreea’s depth of local knowledge and passion for her community are infectious, and she’s a quick study. You are in good hands, Nakusp.

2. Introduce a weekly column to Rossland and Castlegar

It’s kind of stealing from Inception if I write about writing about writing a column.

3. Improve quality and quantity of news content for all papers and their websites

This is a never-ending goal for all journalists, I’d imagine.

Over time, as mentioned above, I’ve developed my radar and feel for what is important to the communities I serve. That can’t be faked, and there’s no replacement for time spent in the community. Things like CP Style, sentence structure, photo cropping and colour correction, are tasks that can be learned, and we’ve also done those things.

Likely the biggest improvement has been online. Our new websites have been brilliant. It is much, much easier to post and update content to our sites. This means we spend less time clicking and typing to format and upload items, and more time researching and writing content.

Plus, the high-performance templates allow for large, high-res photos that display equally well on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Head office is always working on tweaks, and there will be a sizable update to the templates soon that will enhance your experience even more.

4. Get involved in the communities

I’ve managed to have a few coffee meetings with several community groups and leaders, but I’d like to do more outreach. Now that the new web sites have launched, I’ve been able to streamline my work-flow enough to free up some hours each week.

I’ve also volunteered to help teach writing/journalism at area schools this fall, so stay tuned for updates on that work. We can thank #Chrissysentme for that initiative.

Drop me an email or Twitter message if you have feedback on our work.


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John’s mind during week one of his role as regional editor. (Reddit)