“Newspaper editors are men who separate the wheat from the chaff, and then print the chaff.”
–Adlai E. Stevenson
I think it interesting that certain professions, perhaps recognized in an ethereal sense as laudable, are pilloried in the practical. Journalism, unfortunately, often bears this scarlet moniker in the public’s mind.
The late Adlai Stevenson, former governor of Illinois, two-time Democratic presidential nominee, ambassador to the United Nations — and whose quote up top about newspaper editors is one of my favorites — encapsulates the sentiment of many with some pithy wit.
And yet, the closer a newspaper is with its audience, the more hyper-local its focus, the more proprietary readers feel toward it; and the more it is revered and valued. This is, in my opinion, why readers love Metro Times.
If America’s daily newspapers are democracy’s bulwark (insert amber grain and purple mountains b-roll), then alternative newsweeklies are the megaphone of its disenfranchised, spotlight for its undiscovered artists and exposers of its sinuous underbelly.
As I stand atop the proverbial high dive this Monday morning, which is MT’s deadline day, peering down toward the deep end of the pool (in this case, this week’s current issue), the butterflies are in full flutter.
This being the first issue under my purview, my colleagues and I agreed it both necessary and neighborly to introduce myself to the people whose loyalty we value and safeguard.
Riddle me this, readers: What do Harry Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, U-M’s Gary Moeller, Nicklas Lidstrom, Disney’s Robert Iger and I have in common? Not much, frankly, except each of us entered into a leadership role succeeding a storied predecessor.
In my case, the aura of W. Kim Heron looms large. A revered journalist in Detroit, Heron held the editorship for six years, and was MT’s managing editor for several years before that. In all, he can claim his fingerprints touched more than 800 issues during his tenure.
Respected for his integrity and beloved by his staff, Heron’s presence casts a long shadow. Yet, based upon his deferential departure letter to MT’s readers, he would likely eschew the praise and instead cast the lauds on the paper’s editorial infrastructure, led by venerable editors Michael Jackman and Curt Guyette. However, this much I know to be true: any team is only as strong as the captain in the wheelhouse.
Shadows aside, Publisher Chris Sexson made his decision and hired me to succeed Heron. This position is, far and above, the most competitive post I have ever gone after; and he let me know there was no shortage of qualified candidates. I am grateful for the opportunity and humbled by his confidence.
I recognize the hard-fought respect earned by Heron and his predecessors is not a birthright of this job. There is much to do and much to prove. Flowery words are nice, but the proof, they say, is in the pudding.
I am eager to engage with the readership, both in print and digitally. I thought blogging about the job’s exploits would be a good start and invite everyone to see my life, unedited, on metrotimes.com.
Call, email, write and drop by. The editor’s desk is only as useful as the audience that engages its occupant; and based upon past performance, I expect future results to be positive – and to be kept fairly busy.
Bryan Gottlieb is the new editor at Metro Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org