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“The People behind the Papers” is a Q&A series featuring the employees of 22nd Century Media who play an integral role in producing 15 community newspapers. The project is designed to give readers an inside look at the personalities that drive the journalism you have read weekly in print and daily on our websites. To support the work we do, please consider subscribing at SubscribePrairie.com or through any of our other 14 newspapers.
What do you do at 22nd Century Media?
I'm the company's publisher, which basically means I'm responsible for the journalism we produce. More specifically, I establish and enforce editorial policy, manage and develop editors, and advocate on behalf of our work. It is a management position, but everyone knows I have to mix it up by either researching, investigating or storytelling (or all of the above).
What does your job at 22nd Century Media mean to you?
I've put everything I have into the journalism produced by 22CM. I've never believed in the concept of work-life balance. To me, why limit your passions and adventures? If they cross paths, so be it. Just go about the life you want to live, wherever it takes you. Mine took me proudly through the news of 22CM and into the lives of many, many good friends and colleagues.
What is the most memorable story you've written during your time here?
I've written national champion features, and I once swept the sports writing category at an awards ceremony, but the one I will never forget was a short column in 2007. You've probably heard or read about this, but I wrote about how a family that was raffling off the father's prized, rehabbed motorcycle, because the father randomly fell into a coma and they could not handle the medical bills. A week later, the mom called and said they hit their financial goal and the winner of the bike gave it back to the family. In that moment, I knew what we were capable of, and I haven't wanted to do anything else since.
What do you like to do for fun when you're not working?
I love playing with my boy, Desmond, and my girls, Pip and Roo. I love dining out and dining in with my wife. And I enjoy playing rec sports whenever I can: softball and volleyball are my go-tos.
What's one thing even your co-workers probably don't know about you?
I once shared about 20 Coronas with two coworkers on a Wednesday night in the office — and we critiqued each others' papers until 3 a.m.
What is your perfect work lunch situation?
Depends on which office I'm in. South: Joey's tacos are a sleeper menu item, and I dig hitting the Aurelio's pizza buffet. In the north, it's Barnaby's or bust. Whether with a group of colleagues or by myself with a newspaper.
How are you riding out this COVID-19 pandemic?
Workin'. You guys aren't? Other than that, chasing around the boy and watching way too much streaming TV. I also snack like crazy in this outbreak.
Anything else you want people to know?
Community journalism informs, but it also inspires. I believe sports teams have a higher success rate when a local paper is covering them long enough. I believe home values go up because of a good community paper. You do it right, you don't just report the news of a community; you reveal its soul. And it moves people.