Thursday, July 11, 2013

'Courageous' editor steps down after dedicating 40 years to community newspapers

Bob Gorman
Community newspapers have long had a responsibility to cover every aspect of their territories, from the smallest, seemingly trivial story to the hard news, with a reporter covering a beauty pageant one day to crime and injustice the next. And sometimes those less pleasant stories involve people the reporter knows, or sees on a regular basis. It's not always an easy job for a reporter to uncover wrong doings knowing they might run into that person, or their friends and family, at the local grocery store. But someone has to do it if the paper wants to succeed and be taken seriously.

That's exactly what Bob Gorman did. He spent 40 years covering the communities in which he lived and worked with pride, while never backing down from exposing injustices. He "printed the truth as he saw it, let the chips fall where they may, then made himself as publicly accountable as possible, participating fully, and often spearheading, the essential civic institutions at the heart of small town America," contributor Bob Deans writes for the Watertown Daily Times in upstate New York. Gorman, who also worked in papers in South Carolina, retired June 21 as managing editor of the Times.

"In nearly 30 years as a newspaper reporter, I never saw more courageous journalism," Deans writes of Gorman, 62."It’s one thing to write biting critiques of presidents, cabinet members, senators and congressmen you seldom see in person and never come across socially. It’s another to throw a spear at the king of a community with a few thousand people, knowing you’re certain to run into them at the PTA, the Rotary Club or the deacon’s meeting. That’s what makes what Gorman did for 40 years so extraordinary."

The Times was recently nominated for best digital-media article in Syracuse University's Mirror Awards for an article exposing factual errors and poor reporting by the national magazine The Atlantic on a story the magazine wrote alleging that new agribusiness in St. Lawrence County was hurting the Amish community to the point that they were digging through the trash for food and that many families were leaving town.

"Gorman’s signal contribution to the communities he served was to bring them the unflinching and unvarnished truth, in black and white," Deans writes. "There was, and is, no substitute for Gorman’s brand of journalism. It informed his readers, and the decisions they made, large and small. It provided a starting point for uncounted thousands of conversations that provided the impetus for needed change. And it reminded the people in the communities he served that they were part of a larger whole, a unique civilization of people with a shared identity, a common story and far more to gain from cooperation than conflict." (Read more)

Gorman's new job is president and chief executive officer of the United Way of Northern New York. He started his career at the Georgetown Times in South Carolina in 1974. After 20 years as a reporter and editor at South Carolina papers, he became assistant managing editor for news at the  Daily Times in 1994 and managing editor in 2001, the Times reports.

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