Thursday, August 28, 2008

Passeggio will take center stage editorially

For the next several weeks, Courier Senior Staff Writer Alyssa Passeggio will be writing the editorial in this space.

This is the first time since April 1998, when I started editing the newspaper, that I have done this.

The philosophy of the Editorial Department at the newspaper is that The Courier is usually our reporters’ first steps in journalism, and their first stop along the way, but certainly not their last. Consequently, a great deal of attention is paid to their development as writers, with the idea that after a couple years they will be moving onto writing for daily newspapers, editing weekly newspapers or public relations, as they feel so drawn.

Alyssa joined the staff here at The Courier in May 2007 fresh out of graduation from Georgian Court University, in Lakewood. During her tenure here at The Courier, she has proved truly exceptional in her work ethic, dedication to her coverage area, and development as a news writer.

Alyssa’s coverage of the Highlands bridge, among other storylines, allowed the public to understand that very complex project in a way that was thorough and detailed.

This is the kind of information that voters and residents need to know in order to make informed decisions about their community.

Writing editorials every week is not as easy as it looks. Some weeks, a writer may not have anything at all that they feel all that strongly about. But, taking a stand on issues and saying what one truly thinks is what an editorial should be. Sure, there should be facts and information, but having an opinion is implicit to the editorial: Something is good or it is bad.

When I was a reporter, around the time dinosaurs roamed the world (a.k.a. the 1990s), making public comment was straightforward: I wrote about events insofar as who did what when, and where they did it and why in five paragraphs with short ledes. This is the basic mission of reporters and people that do not enjoy that should probably not be reporters.

Writing editorials is more personal and speaks to the belief structures that people have. In my opinion, it is a great exercise for young reporters, who have had some seasoning, to try their hands at this practice. When everything else is in place with a reporter’s skill set, development of this kind of writing can be an asset. I think this is exactly the case where it involves Alyssa.

Reporters know their areas like the back of their hands. They know the people, the issues and the emerging issues that often take the spotlight in the news. Yet, each of us are residents of a larger community, and reside within a county and a state as well as just a town. Consequently, crafting informed editorials could stretch the skills of a writer in a way that is forward-looking in this industry.

I look forward to Alyssa’s tenure as an editorial voice of the newspaper. I certainly hope that our readers do also.

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