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Column: Changes in staff shift newsroom 'family' dynamics

Nancy Townsley is managing editor of the News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune.
In a family, when a new baby is born or a teenager graduates from high school and goes off to college, the dynamics inside that home dramatically change.

So too inside a newsroom.

This week we welcome a new associate editor for the Hillsboro Tribune. Geoff Pursinger, a Pacific University alum, comes to us after seven years as a reporter and editor for the Tribune’s sister paper, the Tigard-Tualatin Times. He replaces Kathy Fuller, who will remain on our staff part-time.

We’re also gaining a new sports editor, Hillsboro native Wade Evanson, and a sports reporter, former Willamette Week writer Mark Kirchmeier, replacing Amanda Miles and Zack Palmer, respectively.

Stephanie Haugen, who has covered schools and news in Forest Grove, Banks and Gaston for the past couple years, will become the News-Times’ dedicated reporter and will begin covering the city of Forest Grove, laboring under the expert tutelage of Associate Editor Jill Rehkopf Smith.

Travis Loose, who has covered both the cities of Forest Grove and Hillsboro since summer 2015, will switch over to Pursinger’s staff so he can dedicate all his time to covering the city of Hillsboro as the Tribune’s full-time reporter.

Whew — that’s a lot of change for one organization in a very short period of time.

And while my head is spinning a bit, I’m excited at the prospect of moving into the future with a team that’s eager to produce high-quality newspapers online and in print each week.

All these transitions have me thinking about systems theory, a school of thought that suggests individuals can’t be understood in isolation from one another, but rather as a part of their family or as part of a different system that serves as family in terms of an emotional unit.

Here at the News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune, we operate as a family in the sense that we depend on one another to get the job done every Tuesday and Wednesday when our papers go to press. A reporter’s story needs an editor’s eagle eye.

The managing editor needs the associate editors’ help to determine priorities for news coverage; the photo editor must shoot and select images that best illustrate those stories; and the page designers must understand the overarching vision for the front page in order to package the news in an engaging way.

Nothing would happen at all if our advertising sales staff didn’t secure ads from area business owners, and the production department’s role in producing and placing those ads in our paper is critical as well.

Plus, all of us — me, Nikki, Jill, Kathy, Stephanie, Travis, Michael, Ryan, Chase, Liz, Michelle, Harvey, Maureen, Olivia and Allison (and now Geoff, Wade and Mark) — genuinely like and respect each other, filling an emotional need for affiliation in a professional environment, as systems theorists suggest.

Yet none of this magic happens on the back of one person or even two.

It takes all of us, working together as a cohesive unit, to achieve our goal of offering readers and advertisers the best in community journalism week in and week out.

Publisher Nikki DeBuse probably said it best after Pursinger, Evanson and Kirchmeier set up their work stations at our Pacific Avenue office last week: “Our readers can look forward to more timely coverage of news and sports on our websites and through our social media channels. I’m excited, because we will be able to connect with our readers and be more responsive to the needs of the communities we serve.”