Today I’m a happy and proud old editor

Photo stolen from Matt Christensen

Some pictures really are worth 1,000 words.

For me, this is one of those photos. It shows the other big event that happened in Wisconsin over the weekend. While the rest of the nation chattered about Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., being chosen as Mitt Romney’s running mate on the Republican presidential ticket, a group I like to think of as some of “my kids” held a little reunion in Warrens, Wis.

I’ve never been lucky enough to have children of my own. But I am proud of this group, which includes, from the left, Bill Wambeke, Megan Otto, Cassidy Friedman (guy in red T-shirt), Jared Hopkins (standing next to Cassidy), Matt Christensen (guy holding child) and Meagan Thompson (young woman in front, holding child.)

Bill, Megan, Cassidy, Jared, Matt and Meagan were among the young copy editors, reporters and photographers I hired during my time as editor of the newspaper in Twin Falls, Idaho. At the time, Megan may have been viewed as the only sure thing because she had grown up in a nearby community. And she is a talented copy editor and page designer who had already worked at another newspaper.

But all of the others could have been viewed as a gamble. In fact, I may have even hired some of them in spite of opposition from others who worked at the  newspaper at the time.

This bunch was young and inexperienced and came from far away. Jared, for example, was a New York kid who had graduated from the University of Maryland — not the typical route for someone to wind up in Twin Falls.

Meagan was from Montana. She was also inexperienced, but she could speak Spanish — a real plus for a newspaper photographer in a community with a growing Hispanic population.

Cassidy had the least amount of actual experience and not much formal journalism training. But his parents’ neighbor in California was a friend of Mary Junck. And she is the chief executive of the company that owns the newspaper. Because I had been successful with other young reporters and interns, I was asked by a vice president in the company to take a chance on Cassidy, He turned out to be a hard worker and a fast learner. He also could speak Spanish and just oozed with personality. He has a natural way of getting people to open up and tell him stuff. In other words, he may not have had much experience, but he was a born reporter.

All of them have left that newspaper in Idaho, but they all bonded and had a lot of fun working together while they were there. And they won a bunch of awards for their work.

Since then, they have gone on to bigger and better things.

  • Matt is the city editor at the La Crosse Tribune in Wisconsin.
  • Megan works as a copy editor at the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison.
  • Jared, who is a reporter at the Chicago Tribune, was a finalist last year for a Pulitzer Prize.
  • Bill is the lead designer and presentation editor at the Forum in Fargo, N.D.
  • Cassidy is running his own video-production business in California.

I couldn’t be prouder of them. Or happier to see they have remained close,.

I just wish I could have made it to Wisconsin for the weekend. Maybe next time,.

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