Proud of what we made as I leave Digital First Media

Harry Foote, my first editor at my first newspaper job in Westbrook, Maine, pulled me aside after a particularly rough day in 1994. I’d missed or made mistakes on more than one story. I was 18 years old. He was approaching 80. He handed me a copy of the latest edition of  the paper, pointed to three or four things I’d written, and said, “You won’t remember what you missed this week. You’ll remember and be proud of what you made.”

I keep returning to that advice today, which will be my last as editor of the New Haven Register, Register Citizen, Middletown Press and other publications in Connecticut. I’m leaving Digital First Media after working for it and its predecessor companies for the past 11 years, or nearly 30 percent of my life. I’ve worked as a statewide and regional editor for DFM for the past three years, as a publisher the previous three, and as a corporate director of news before that.

I could write a book about the frustrations and lessons from the past three years of our attempts to rapidly shift from legacy print structure to digital first journalism business model under hedge fund ownership and in a corporate newspaper chain environment. I’m not sure anyone would want to read it.

So I’m taking Harry’s advice. In the past 11 years at Journal Register Company and Digital First Media, I’ve come to know hundreds of people who have dedicated their lives to journalism, who work long hours for low pay, and put up with all kinds of crap (including plenty from me!) year after year. Cynical exteriors aside, at the heart of it, they care about strangers and are in journalism to improve people’s lives.

When I consider what our team in Connecticut has done and been through in the past three years:

This group of journalists in Connecticut accomplished these things despite constant uncertainty and change in the industry and company, multiple rounds of staff reductions and a nonstop agenda of training on new tools.

And they did it during a period of tremendous personal loss for our team, in which we saw the passing of the beloved Ann DeMatteo, George Mihalakos, Neal Buker, Michael Bellmore and Bridget Albert.

Although I’ll be moving on to not-sure-what-comes-next (hey, know someone who wants to hire me?), I’ll be excited to see the next few years of accomplishments from DFM newsrooms across the country and our group in Connecticut in particular.

Connecticut’s newsrooms will have strong and compassionate leadership from Mark Brackenbury, promoted today to executive editor, fresh off receiving the Local Media Association Editor of the Year award last week in Philadelphia. Backing them up are an incredible group of leaders, reporters, photographers and designers who made all of the above and a lot more happen over the past few years.

7 thoughts on “Proud of what we made as I leave Digital First Media

  1. Becki Pastor says:

    You will be sorely missed. Much luck in your future endeavors. You were a voice of reason in times of much strife and pain here in Connecticut. Thank you.


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