Wednesday, December 12, 2018

New editor at rural N.H. paper, at 30 the youngest ever, aims to help it increase its digital presence

Maggie Cassidy
The new editor at the Valley News in West Lebanon, N.H, is breaking barriers: Maggie Cassidy, 30, will be the paper's youngest-ever editor and its first woman when she takes over the 25-person newsroom next week, though neither of those things landed her the job, Kristen Hare reports for the Poynter Institute.

"She has really been the driving force behind our movement to more of a digital presence, and she has really earned the respect from all of her colleagues in the newsroom," said publisher Dan McClory in an article announcing the hire.

As the daughter of a journalist and a careful but dedicated advocate for digital news, Cassidy is well-placed to help a newspaper embrace new technology. "What I think strikes a lot of people about Maggie is the bridge that she provides between the old and the new," said Martin Frank, the 30-year veteran editor she's replacing. Frank has been the editor of the Valley News for the past five years.

West Lebanon, N.H., is across the Connecticut
River from White River Junction, Vt. (Google)
"The old, he said, are the principles of good journalism. The new is how to apply those principles to new forms of journalism," Hare reports. It will be a challenge: many residents in the area don't have much internet access and some still use dial-up. But Cassidy, who became the paper's first web editor in 2012, has been working to increase the paper's digital presence while still respecting old-school tenets of journalism such as factual accuracy even with breaking news; that can suffer sometimes in the report-it-now world of digital news.

The stereotype of small newspapers being slow to change is a little bit true, Cassidy said, but told Hare that her experience has been that "journalists want to do good work, they want to reach readers in the best way . . . but they don't want to do something for the sake of doing it."

The Valley News, named for the Connecticut River valley, serves 24 towns in Vermont and 22 in New Hampshire. It is owned by Newspapers of New England, a family company that owns 10 papers, including the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire's capital and the Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton, Mass.

1 comment:

Jerusha said...

This is good news, and I congratulate Ms Cassidy, I publish the in California. We are the second smallest by population county in the state and have one legal weekly newspaper, The Mountain Messenger, California's Oldest Weekly newspaper. The Messenger has no digital presence other than my loosely based connection. The Prospect does not charge for ads but only places them online if they have a paid ad in the Messenger. I believe digital papers must do as much as possible to ensure the ability of print papers to survive... and please for heavens sake don't direct your news to readers preference...allow for the "accidental news" to allow readers to learn something they never knew they didn't know... hmmm getting carried away here... anyhow welcome to your new Editor.