There is no place like Nebraska — and I'm honored to be back home after 36 years away.
I'm the new editor of your World-Herald, a Beatrice native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln journalism graduate who's been blessed to have a newspaper career that's been a seminar in America. I've worked in big cities (Detroit and Cincinnati), small towns (Glenwood Springs, Colorado), and in red, blue and purple states; had a front-row seat to presidential politics in DesMoines; and met my wife in Abilene, Texas.
I've always been proud during this amazing journey to say I'm a Nebraskan and have always felt the warmth of tribal familiarity when I've visited.
So it is, then, that coming home to practice my profession matters a lot to me because both journalism and Nebraska matter a lot to me.
It matters that news organizations hold government accountable and insist on openness, that journalists fight to find a sustainable way forward for our profession and help students on that path, that we stand up for Nebraskans and give them voice. It matters that we look without blinking and tell hard truths and that we seek out and celebrate the human good in everyday life.
As editor of The World-Herald, where I was a newsroom intern in 1979, I'll make these promises:
We will listen. I had a political science professor who said, "Democracy works when the shoe pinches." We will seek to find and understand those sore spots in our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and more, and then press for solutions. You can reach me at email@example.com.
We will be fair. That doesn't mean you'll agree with everything you read, but we will seek to represent all reasonable sides in our news columns.
We will be champions for our communities. Often, that will mean calling out bad behavior and sloppy spending along with triumphs.
We'll be honest and accountable. As our customers, you have a right to expect perfection. We are human, though, and will be upfront when we fall short.
We'll be responsive to calls and emails in respectful discourse.
Without a doubt, The World-Herald is different than it was when I was an intern or even than it was 10 years ago. The news industry has undergone convulsive disruption from the Internet, smartphones and the advent of Google and Facebook advertising.
Nearly half of journalists working for legacy newspaper brands have lost their jobs since the Great Recession. But those who remain find stories critical to our community, such as the tragedy that can be visited by a predatory teacher, how the Omaha Public Schools' pension system got so far in the hole and the interwoven story of the city's greatest athletes and the struggle for civil rights.
This is hardly the only industry that's been disrupted in the post-Recession digital age.
That's simply reality, but what we do is too important not to work hard and creatively to fulfill our community responsibilities. That's going to mean actively listening to find key issues in the community and being disciplined in how we invest our limited reporting time.
Something that's absolutely clear is the dedication of The World-Herald staff to Omaha and Nebraska. Most are longtime residents whose knowledge of community and skills show daily at Omaha.com and in the paper. It's been a professional joy to acquaint myself with the quality of journalism that my new colleagues deliver day in and day out.
You have a stake in this. Quality journalism needs your engagement — and your support. This work doesn't get done for free and remains a good deal. A digital subscription, with full access to the work of Nebraska's best journalists, is just $10.99 a month.