You might say I’ve gotten to know Ohio, its communities, back roads and media outlets pretty well in recent years.
I’ve now worked with or at more than 20 newspapers, although that’s not a warning sign that I can’t keep a job.
My new role as editor of the Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com expands my previous responsibility overseeing news operations in eight other Northeast Ohio markets owned by GateHouse Media. For the past two years, I was based at the Record-Courier in Kent, where I worked to carefully expand collaboration among our sites to better serve our readers.
That’s meant expanded coverage of the Statehouse and Ohio State football for Beacon readers via The Columbus Dispatch and more Cleveland professional sports news from the Beacon in other markets.
Previously, I served in a similar role with 10 media sites largely based in central Ohio while serving as editor of The Advocate in Newark. A graduate of Ohio University, I’ve also worked at three other newspapers as an intern, reporter and city editor.
I also recall applying for internships and jobs at the Beacon as a young journalist. Oh, well, I’m here now.
I’m seasoned enough to remember the paste-up days when wax-backed paper was manually affixed to paste-up pages before desktop publishing software debuted. We had one shot a day to tell you what was happening in print. We now have incredible digital tools to tell stories anytime, an opportunity I still find exciting every time a big story breaks.
These innovations also continue to create challenges for newspapers as younger readers such as my two sons seek news and information from their smartphones. We’re living in an age of amazing transformation where traditional business models are being disrupted constantly.
Thriving ride-sharing companies could not exist without smartphones, which were invented just 12 years ago. As I remind staffers occasionally, people don’t buy film for their cameras anymore. And many have ditched their new digital cameras to use their smartphones as a camera, a business disruption that took less than 15 years.
These realities have forced significant changes in our newsrooms as we seek to serve our loyal print readers while growing our digital audience. Each readership group holds different expectations of our journalism and community service, essentially requiring our mass medium to serve niches.
The Beacon remains blessed with a passionate team of journalists who care about our future and the community they serve. Their historical knowledge and insights into Akron and the entire region are as impressive as their talents. I’m excited and honored to have the opportunity to lead them into the future.
My passion for news goes beyond ensuring we report on important news and make your life easier with helpful information. Strong local journalism that exposes wrongdoing, gives a voice to all citizens, celebrates our collective successes and fosters debate remains an integral part of any community’s success.
As you will see elsewhere in today’s paper, we also strongly believe in giving readers a voice in our coverage. We’re announcing a series of Akron community forum meetings in April where we’ll listen to what you see as the city’s needs in this mayoral election year. I also will host regular, less-formal gatherings seeking your feedback.
So, I look forward to meeting more of you. In the meantime, feel free to give me a call or drop a note.
Michael Shearer is the editor of the Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com and a regional editor for GateHouse Ohio. He can be reached at 330-996-3750, email@example.com or @michaeljshearer on Twitter.