A few months back loyal State Journal reader Bob Gullette, a man about town if ever there was one, dropped me an email suggesting that I pen a column on my “new life as an editor as opposed to a reporter.” My response was that it would bore readers to death but he insisted so I figured I’d give it a shot.
I guess you could say newsprint has always been in my blood because my life in the newspaper industry didn’t begin in the reporter ranks but far, far below in delivery — as in I got up every morning at 5 a.m. to pitch my hometown daily on my neighbors’ porches (and the occasional bush or roof) from age 12 and through my teens.
But my first official newsroom job — if that is what you call answering the phones for high school sports scores on Friday nights and covering the annual triathlon — only came about because I was passed over for an assistant manager position I had high hopes for at the bookstore where I worked when I was 21.
At the time I was crushed that the bookstore job fell through, but looking back, I am glad I failed because a few months later I had an opportunity to get my other foot in the door at the paper when a full-time slot opened in the newsroom — writing and formatting obituaries. It wasn’t the most glamorous job but I was in the newsroom every weekday and some weekends and it didn’t take long to figure out it was exactly where I wanted to be.
From the smell of burnt coffee and cigarette smoke wafting over reporters as they rushed to meet deadlines to the editors bent over page proofs agonizing over headlines and punctuation marks with the police scanner screeching in the background and the familiar sound of the press heaving to life each night, the newsroom was and still is an electric place.
So when I was promoted to copy editor of my hometown newspaper (yes, technically I was an editor before being a reporter) a handful of months after landing the obituary gig, I jumped at the chance to contribute to the publication in a different way — mainly triple checking newscopy, headlining stories, designing pages and, at long last, writing.
Though I loved what I was doing, like the Dixie Chicks song that was popular at the time, I needed wide open spaces and new faces and wanted to see more than just the city I grew up in. So a year and a half later when the managing editor moved to a newspaper in Ohio and asked me to join him as a copy editor at a sister daily in neighboring Ashland my dream took the shape of a place out west.
Long story short, two years later I met my husband, who used to travel around fixing computers and technical problems for the handful of newspapers formerly owned by the Dix family, we fell in love, eventually I moved to Frankfort and we got married.
Before coming to The State Journal as a reporter three years ago, I stayed home with our three kids for a decade, which taught me one of the tools I use daily as editor — multitasking. I dabbled in sports and news at a few nearby weekly newspapers for a while but missed the excitement and daily grind of a multi-weekly paper. I guess you could say I worked my way up the ranks. In December 2018, I was honored to be named the first female managing editor.
So what have I learned? Journalism is more of a calling than a career choice and when you love what you do it's never really "job" anyway. In fact, the only constants are that no two days are the same, the newscycle is 24 hours and tough skin is a must.
As the fourth estate, it is our responsibility to be the people’s watchdog and it is a duty we don’t take lightly at The State Journal. We will continue our longstanding tradition of serving the community with local news pertinent to those who live, work and play in Frankfort and Franklin County and hope you’ll be along for the ride.
Chanda Veno is managing editor of The State Journal. She can be emailed at email@example.com.