At The News Tribune, added focus but same priorities

August 10, 2008 

My first week as executive editor after three years as managing editor included some milestone meetings, some little surprises and a growing sense of what’s different about my new job.

On Wednesday, I joined the editorial board and was asked for the first time in my career to help formulate the paper’s stand on news stories of the week. The executive editor is the one person at The News Tribune with a foot in both worlds – news and editorial. This will take some getting used to, but I believe a strong editorial can prompt a good community conversation. I look forward to being a part of that.

On Thursday morning, senior editors met to begin reorganizing a smaller newsroom staff with bigger-than-ever ambitions. We want to have as many reporters and photographers as possible on the street, while breaking more news online and maintaining the depth and breadth of the newspaper. It’s a tall order, and the work continues.

Later Thursday, we looked over the latest mock-up of a Web site redesign we plan to launch this fall. The challenge is to give you lots of new headlines and photos each time you visit thenewstribune.com, but keep the home page clean and well-organized. Thank goodness we have online and design professionals to help solve this puzzle.

On a lighter note:

 • More people than I expected think letters to the editor actually go to the editor. Please send them to letters@thenewstribune.com. Or mail them to: The Editor, The News Tribune, PO Box 11000, Tacoma, WA 98411. Somewhat oddly, that sends them to the editorial page for consideration.

 • I’ve suddenly become more popular with the City of Snoqualmie, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and dozens of other outfits. They are filling my inbox with copies of each news release they send our reporters. Thanks, but no need.

 • One of the most-asked questions from news staffers has been: Will the candy dish stay on my old desk in the middle of the newsroom or move to my new office way down at one end? I haven’t decided yet, but I’ll make sure there’s chocolate somewhere. It’s important.

More than anything, I’m beginning to understand how being executive editor is different from being managing editor.

As managing editor, I focused mainly inside the newsroom, helping reporters, editors and others produce the best newspaper and Web site we could.

As executive editor, I also serve as a conduit for the community and for readers. My predecessor, Dave Zeeck, considered the editor a public servant and believes the newspaper can help make this a better place to live. I think he’s right, and I hope to continue his hard work in that area.

Our priorities are not changing. We intend to keep an eye on decision-makers, to break news, to be a guide to living a full life in the South Sound, to entertain and inspire you with stories about you and your neighbors.

I invite you to tell us how we’re doing and offer us suggestions. Call our reader representative at 253-597-8432 or send an e-mail to readerrepresentative@thenewstribune.com.

Phone in a news tip at 253-597-8688 or e-mail it to newstips@thenewstribune.com. Join us for a news meeting at 3 p.m. any weekday. (Call Grace Ryan at 253-597-8632 if you’d like to attend.) Invite us to speak at your community gathering. If there’s something you’d like me to write about in this column, let me know.

In short, please stay in touch. I work as much for you as for the TNT.

JOHN MCGRATH AT THE OLYMPICS

We are pleased to have sports columnist John McGrath in Beijing covering his fifth Olympics for The News Tribune.

On Tuesday, he seemed undaunted by his 21-hour journey from Tacoma to China.

“Recalling how it once took me almost four hours to travel from the North End of Tacoma to Sahalee Country Club for the first round of the World Golf Classic, ending up on the other side of the world in 21 hours is pretty remarkable,” he wrote in his blog.

McGrath is one of 15 reporters and columnists working in The McClatchy Co. bureau there.

He’s filing stories and columns with a special focus on South Sound athletes and behind-the-scenes color.

You can catch his updates at: blogs.thenewstribune.com/mcgrath.

Karen Peterson: 253-597-8738

karen.peterson@thenewstribune.com

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