Yes, I’m a little nervous, and thanks for asking.
If you’ve seen any of the announcements tucked away at various places in the paper, you might have noticed that eventually I was going to step in as executive editor of the Mercury.
It happened officially today.
Outgoing boss Bill Felber was around for my first few weeks, with his encyclopedic knowledge of everything and everyone in Manhattan — not to mention his willingness to help me learn every nook and cranny of the building.
This morning, I felt the change.
Bill would still answer any question, of course, but he’s probably off trying to knock a 6-iron close to the pin. And he’s got that cell phone off, I promise.
So I’m alone in the corner office.
It’s probably a teeny bit more attractive in my opinion, with a couple of flowery prints up on the wall, but that’s just fluff. What’s missing is Bill’s experience and utterly calm approach to every situation.
Heck, the guy did this job, like, forever.
Fort Riley? Military history?
Bill liked to tell stories about the good old days, interviewing Teddy Roosevelt before the Roughriders charged into battle on horseback.
To steal an old joke: Felber’s pals swear he was in the Air Force when Pontius was a Pilate.
I’m kidding, of course, and most likely it’s because I really DO feel some serious nerves — taking charge of the newsroom at such a historic newspaper.
And I’ve landed here at a time when all newspapers face incredible change in the world of information and technology.
Needless to say, putting our heads in the sand and pretending it’s still 1970 won’t cut it. We have to adapt, embrace new ideas and make the Mercury better for it.
The Seaton family has handed me a share of this challenge, and told me to run with it — because there are expectations involved.
In a time when newspapers have lost a bit of the spotlight, surrounded as we are by the Internet, 24-hour cable and blogs bubbling up out of your neighbor’s garage, the Seatons not only want to keep the Mercury relevant…
They want to improve it and make it even more of a community cornerstone.
I’ve promised I’ll give them my best shot, and I will. If we stumble occasionally, it won’t be from lack of caring or effort.
But any push to make the Mercury more informative, more interesting and more compelling to everyone in the greater Manhattan area isn’t about me.
It’s about you.
I’m not sure who first said this, but it’s been true as long as there have been newspapers: “We serve at the whim of our readers.”
Sounds corny, but our only path to success is for readers (lots of them) to pick up the paper and feel that they need it, to enjoy it, to consider it a vital link to their community.
That isn’t just a cliché. That’s my entire job description.
So please, please keep in touch. Point out mistakes and, if you feel inclined, share a kind word when we’re on to something good.
I’ll be here. And like you, now a local. Just a little newer on the job.