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A new direction, the same promise

Posted: June 1, 2012 1:30 p.m.
Updated: June 4, 2012 5:00 a.m.

For those of you who noticed that my name wasn’t popping up on the front page a lot lately ... now you know why.

As of Friday, I became the editor of this newspaper, something I have -- to be quite honest -- dreamed about for some time. What I didn’t expect was that it would happen now.

Let me make three things perfectly clear. One, for her own reasons Martha Bruce asked to switch editing chairs to the Shaw News. Two, if she hadn’t done so, that would have been perfectly fine with me. While I wanted this job someday, I most certainly was not eyeing the editor’s office like some kind of vulture. Three, everyone spent the last month or so carefully working out this transition into something we all knew would work.

As I said in our announcement Friday, Martha has been one of my mentors here at the C-I for nearly 13 years (one month from tomorrow, as a matter of fact). Martha and I had a great working relationship as editor and associate editor. The good news is, Martha hasn’t really left, so that relationship will continue, I hope for years to come.

It’s the kind of relationship I hope to foster between myself and Keri Todd Boyce, who’s been promoted to managing editor.

Keri is an award-wining page designer. She can do things with news and feature pages I can only dream of. I recognize my weaknesses -- page design is one of them -- and I’m very grateful to have Keri as my managing editor.

I consider myself a writer. In offering me this promotion, Publisher Mike Mischner described my role as a “writing editor.” He’s right. I can’t be worried about exactly where something should go on a page (well, maybe to some degree) when I need to be worried about exactly what should be written on that page.

My point is that you can expect the C-I to continue looking great and fresh under Keri’s hand.

With our new duties in mind, we hired Denise Schnese as a part-time reporter to go after those stories Keri and I can’t, freeing us to maintain the quality you have come to expect from this newspaper for more than 120 years. Staff reporters Miciah Bennett and Michael Ulmer are helping out more, too.

A smaller change is a “new” email address you can use to reach me in all my roles as reporter, columnist and editor: mcahn@chronicle-independent.com. I’ve actually been using it for certain purposes for a while. Now, I’m making it my official email address here at the C-I.

In a way, the message of this column isn’t that different from the one I wrote when we launched the C-I’s website back in October 2010: “There are things newspapers do other media outlets and social networks can’t. We have the staff and resources to provide you the in-depth coverage of issues and events you need to be an informed citizen while keeping you in touch with your neighbors through our Localife, sports and feature stories.

“That won’t change.”

I’m here to promise that my becoming the C-I’s editor won’t change that, either. I think most of our readers know I’m committed to telling the stories of Camden and Kershaw County so that they are informed, educated and, where appropriate, entertained. The big difference in becoming editor is that I get to guide our staff in telling the parts of that story they touch.

What that does not mean is that I would flavor our staff’s stories with my opinions. I work very hard not to do that in my own news writing -- as opposed to this column -- so I have no intention of doing so with anyone else’s.

By guiding their storytelling, I mean the craft of writing. Some of it will, of course, be based on my own sensibilities as a writer and that’s to be expected. Mostly, though, it will be based on tried and true practices we have developed here at the C-I for years.

In other words, don’t go expecting National Enquirer stories.

When I look at my career so far here along with this new and humbling responsibility, I can’t help but think of a few things.

First of all, the C-I is the place I have worked the longest in my life. I came here as a staff reporter, got the wonderful chance seven years ago to help more as associate editor and now take the leap into the editor’s office.

I worked in radio for 14 years, but never at any radio station for more than two or three years. I worked as an administrative assistant for five years, but at two different companies. I’ve even worked at restaurants and -- believe it or not -- a T-shirt shop. None have been more rewarding than the time I’ve spent here and I have every confidence that will continue to be the case.

Working at this newspaper is where I have felt the closest to the community I live in. That is enormously satisfying to me because of all the moving around I did as a kid. Camden has become more my hometown than where I was born or anywhere I’ve lived in between.

The other huge satisfaction about becoming editor goes back to my paternal grandparents. They got into the newspaper business just after World War II. Together, they owned and operated The Massapequa (N.Y.) Post for decades, with my grandfather Ira “Pop Pop” Cahn going it alone in the last 10 years before retiring in 1985.

I told Mike and Martha when they hired me in 2000 that “all I want to do is write.” I never got the chance to do that with my grandparents.

Now, not only do I live the dream of writing for a newspaper, I get to help lead one further into the 21st century, too.

Let’s go!

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