News-Journal editor Pat Rice held a meeting with his staff last week on the paper’s re-direction. The memo he sent to the newsroom staff yesterday follows.
Beginning today, a number of the newsroom’s reporters are taking on new beats. A full list of news beats is below.
As we discussed at last week’s staff meeting, these adjustments are a result of a newsroom-wide effort to shift coverage in an effort to accomplish two key goals: 1) We want to ensure that our key communities see themselves in the News-Journal daily; and 2) We want to ensure that we continue to focus coverage on key topics of high interest to readers.
I want to thank everyone for their help in putting together this plan, and I especially thank the reporters who are making the greatest adjustments to their specific beats. I know such changes can be challenging, and your willingness to embrace this change is the key ingredient to our success.
Also, as I mentioned last week, these adjustments are by no means the end of changes for the newsroom. They’re a critical first step, but by no means the last step we’ll take. Our current “Your Money” team and our “Business Reports” team will soon be part of a single “Business” team. Our “Accent” team and “Special Publications” team will also soon merge into a single team. Sports is adjusting reporting resources to focus more on prep sports beginning in August. And, we are in the beginning stages of examining our content management system needs — a change that can make our copy editing and design process significantly more efficient.
So, the beat adjustments we make beginning today are a great step, but by no means our last step.
A final point: I will leave it to team leaders to set clear expectations for reporters, but as we discussed at last week’s meeting, as a general rule reporters should aim to write at least a story a day. (As Lyda Longa puts it: “A story a day keeps the editor away!”) Many reporters regularly exceed that expectation, and your readers appreciate the effort. But I also want to emphasize that not all stories are created equal. All reporters and editors should be on the hunt for those high-impact scoops, those “watchdog” stories can truly make a difference in readers’ lives. And if you find a story like that, we’ll figure out how to find the time needed to get it done.
Thanks again for your help, and for your hard work. The feedback about your efforts from readers continues to be extremely positive.
Below is the new beat structure.
Team Leader John Gallas — Cops, courts and West Volusia
Mark Harper — Deltona/Southwest Volusia reporter
Kelly Cuculiansky — DeLand/Northwest Volusia reporter
Patricio Balona — Sheriff’s Department/morning online breaking news/Westside cops
Lyda Longa — Eastside police agencies/breaking news
Jay Stapleton — Volusia courts
Andrew Gant — Night cops, starts Aug. 2
Assistant Managing Editor Kathy Kelly — Education and East Volusia
Linda Trimble — Education reporter
Deborah Circelli — Higher Education reporter/some social services
Ray Weiss — Port Orange reporter/South Daytona/Ponce Inlet
Audrey Parente — Ormond Beach reporter/Holly Hill/Volusia Review
Mark Johnson — New Smyrna Beach reporter/Southeast Volusia
Mark Lane — columnist/occasional feature stories
Deputy Managing Editor Cal Massey — Enterprise and Sunday editor
Anne Geggis — Health reporter/some social services
Dinah Pulver — Environment reporter
Derek Catron — Investigative/enterprise reporter; politics/elections editor
Will Hobson — Volusia County government
Eileen Zaffiro — Daytona Beach reporter/Daytona Beach Shores
Assistant Managing Editor Nick Klasne – Flagler
Kenya Woodard — Flagler education reporter/beachside cities
Frank Fernandez — Palm Coast/Flagler courts reporter
Julie Murphy — Flagler County Commission/Flagler cops reporter
Aaron London — Flagler business reporter/Tribune editor
(Note: Nick remains responsible for Neighbors North and South, and oversees editorial assistant Jacque Estes and News-Tribune/Neighbors designer Roy Parry.)
Several important topics are not listed above with a reporter’s name – the military, for example.
Audrey Parente will remain the primary contact for military events and stories, but she will forward news releases to city reporters to cover events within their community.
Kathy Page in Accent will be the primary contact for religion briefs/notices. She also will forward releases to the appropriate city reporter. A large church under construction in Port Orange, for instance, would go to Ray Weiss. Kathy Kelly will coordinate coverage for religious holidays, such as Easter-related stories, and for military observances, such as Pearl Harbor Day and Veteran’s Day.
Aging issues will go to Reporter Anne Geggis.
Diversity issues will be covered by all reporters, although Eileen Zaffiro will be the key contact for the local NAACP and diversity trend stories.
Hispanic affairs will be shared by Frank Fernandez in Flagler County, Kelly Cuculiansky in DeLand and Northwest Volusia, and occasionally Patricio Balona in West Volusia. But these stories also will be covered by city reporters, such as Mark Harper in Deltona, which has a sizeable Hispanic population.
Environmental stories also might be covered by city reporters, although it will be important to notify Dinah Pulver to avoid duplication. The same with entertainment-related stories in the two counties. Please let Rick de Yampert know to avoid duplication.