A changing of the guard

We searched high. We searched low. All across the nation, for nearly four months, we have been running a talent hunt rivaling that of any TV realty show in an attempt to find just the right leaders for our three newspapers.

We brought in veteran publishers from as far away as North Carolina. We tried out newspaper editors from Georgia, magazine editors from Utah, even a talented veteran sports magazine designer with ties to the county.

But in the end we found the best candidate to take on the role of news editor of the Record, Star-Journal and Gazette-Bulletin was someone already in our newsroom — a familiar, reliable source of information to thousands of Marion County readers.

Effective today, reporter Adam Stewart is being promoted to news editor, responsible for coordinating reporting, editing, design, and the editorial page of all three Hoch Publishing newspapers.

An extraordinarily conscientious and dependable member of our team since arriving here three years ago from Blackfoot, Idaho, Adam, an Eagle Scout and K-State graduate, will replace Amanda Ayers, who departed Tuesday after generously volunteering to remain in Marion as interim news editor to help with our transition even after her family had relocated to Kansas City.

Also joining the staff — actually, rejoining it — is Jennifer Stultz, a KU journalism graduate who has been working with us free-lance for a few weeks. A member of the Star-Journal staff before Hoch Publishing purchased the paper, Jennifer, who resides in the rural Hillsboro area, will work as a full-time reporter and copy editor with us in addition to continuing her part-time work from home as editor of the national magazine, Dairy Goat Journal.

Although we originally brought him on only as a temporary worker, we hope to be able to retain the absolutely invaluable services of reporter David Colburn for as long as he is able to continue with us while searching for a position in his area of specialty, early childhood education.

With Adam, David, Jennifer, the very gifted Ben Kleine, talented feature writer Rowena Plett, Peabody editor Susan Marshall and writer-photographer Janet Post all on board, we will have the largest — and best — news staff in the history of Marion County as we reach for even greater heights with our news coverage.

In less than two weeks, we will have another announcement to make, when we will appoint to the new position of advertising manager a veteran of more than 25 years of newspaper advertising sales, including positions in sales and management at more than five daily newspapers in Kansas. She will join the dedicated and personable Debbie Steele, who will continue as our primary salesperson for Marion County businesses, and work with our ever-reliable production director, Melvin Honeyfield, who as a part owner and invaluable long-term employee will continue as a member of the board of directors.

Jean Stuchlik will continue in her role as circulation and business manager, handling matters of corporate policy and working with our exceptionally talented new bookkeeper, Patsy Kline.

Never accused of being slaves to trends in the industry, we are actually increasing our staff and expanding our coverage at a time when many newspapers are cutting staff, cutting coverage, and switching from locally inspired approaches to cookie-cutter solutions dictated by corporate offices and editors imported from outside the community.

Time — and your continued patronage as subscribers and advertisers — will determine whether we’re right to respect our community enough to give readers a choice of locally inspired quality and value instead of cutting back and jumping on fad bandwagons like everyone else.

— ERIC MEYER

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