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Regional News looking toward the future



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Halverson (click for larger version)
March 21, 2012 | 07:37 AM
As most readers know by now, editor Lisa Seiser has left the Regional News.

She's become the managing editor of a daily paper in Junction City, a couple hours west of Kansas City.

We will miss her. The city will miss her. I will miss her.

She's brought a variety of skills and character to her position. She's been fearless. She's been dedicated. She's a skilled and very accurate reporter and a gutsy editorial writer.

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As general manager, I never worried about the editorial department because I trusted the woman at the helm. She has as much candor as anyone I know, a booming laugh and a keen wit. Her new employer is getting a winner.

But now it's time to move on.

As the person responsible for hiring a new editor, I've been looking at resumes and contemplating the best way to map out the future.

An editor may be many things — a great manager, a great writer, a great co-worker, a great member of the community. Rarely are all things found in the same person, at least to start. People tend to grow into the job and form their own way of looking at it over time — so I'll be hiring a person for the long-term as well as the present.

In order to do that, I'm considering what kind of newspaper we want to become. For starters, I should probably change or enlarge that word — "newspaper." Like it or not, newspapers of the past have limited space in the future. Technology has changed everything. We're lucky in Lake Geneva to have a paper that still makes money — a rarity these days. But in evolving into the future, both financially and editorially, we need to look to a new definition of "newspaper." There may even be a day when local "news" will no longer be printed on "news paper." That may not be tomorrow, but we have to make sure today has an eye toward that mysterious future as well.

Beyond the medium of our message, we need to consider the nature of the paper — its feel, its disposition, the choices it makes. What we have that no one else has is information.

No matter its form no one can match us in our ability to gather local information. We need to leverage that wisely.

In order to be any good, a newspaper needs to be accurate and it can't shy away from difficult stories. We're a strange business in that sometimes we have to write things that irritate those we're most beholden to — our readers and advertisers. But all that comes with the territory and I won't compromise those necessities or I'm compromising the paper's long term credibility.

In hiring a new editor we can look at what we cover, how we cover it and what the paper looks like which has more of an impact than people realize. A paper with sharp edges says one thing. A friendly upbeat look says another.

So as I ask for input on what we will be in the future, I know I'm treading on interesting ground.

First, I'm asking questions that aren't necessarily concrete, that are philosophical in nature but have practical results. Second, I know I'm opening myself up for personal agendas. I hope people keep in mind that a newspaper has to look beyond that. It isn't fair to focus on one point of view and, as a practical matter, there's no way we can investigate every perspective.

A lot of who we become will be shaped by our new editor. My hope is to hire someone quickly but I have no concrete timeline. I've received more than 40 applications both in-house and beyond and want to make sure I hire the right person. Hiring will be on a fast track — but a methodical one.

Ultimately, the decision will be mine but it'll have the input of the staff and the larger community. I know that I won't make everyone happy. I will however do the best job I can to ensure that this community has the best newspaper it can have, the great newspaper it deserves. If you want to add to these perspectives, e-mail at jhalverson@lakegenevanews.net or give me a call at (262) 248-4444.

I'll value your input.

Halverson is the general manager and interim editor of the Regional News.

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