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2008 Supervisor Recognition Award winners lead through innovation, creative approaches to their work

The 2008 Gannett Information Center Supervisor Recognition Award winners brought a strong understanding of audience and the ability to lead change. All worked with their staffs to advance in new directions.

The winners join 209 other managers who have been cited for their exceptional work since the awards were first presented in 1994.

The judges said: “This group of Supervisor Recognition Award winners worked through numerous challenges to ensure that an emphasis was placed on important Public Service efforts, that good journalism was produced to serve the needs of our readers. They also brought smart, creative and innovative thinking using new technology to deliver news and information on various platforms.”

The judges were Corporate News Executives Phil Currie, Kate Marymont, Anne Saul and Ann Clark. Details of the winners’ work come from the nomination letters.

The winners are:

    Jason Alt, local desk editor, The Daily Journal, Vineland, N.J.

    Mark Bickel, digital editor, The News-Press, Fort Myers, Fla.

    Tracy Collins, senior director for operations, The Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Az.

    Kathleen Dijamco, news editor, Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal

    Ann Goldthwaite-Kris, news editor/regional copy desk, Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers (based in Oshkosh)

    Bob Heist, sports editor, The Daily Advertiser, Lafayette, La.

    Becky Holt, associate director/digital development, Burlington (Vt.) Free Press

    Mike Mentzer, managing editor, The Reporter, Fond du Lac, Wis.

    Cory Myers, senior editor for multimedia, Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, S.D.

    Eric Pinckney, night editor, Asbury Park (N.J.) Press

    Africa Price, managing editor, The Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat

    Caryn Shinske, assistant news editor/enterprise, Courier News, Bridgewater, N.J., and Home News Tribune, East Brunswick, N.J. ㄀

    Chris Snider, assistant managing editor/digital, The Des Moines Register

    Belinda Stewart, metro editor, FLORIDA TODAY, Brevard County, Fla.

    Carrie Yale, assistant managing editor/photography, The Journal News, Westchester County, N.Y.

Jason Alt

Jason Alt, local desk editor, The Daily Journal, Vineland
In Jason’s relentless pursuit of news, his reaction to a challenge is: “Yes, we can do it.” Deeply involved in hands-on work, Jason shifts resources and streamlines processes as needed. He works through his key editors, challenging them to get the most and highest quality from their staffs. In 2008, he oversaw a push for more local breaking news on the Web site, executed a remake of a TMC product, coordinated efforts to grow photo galleries and executed new daily content items aimed at specific audiences.

Nominator’s comments: “Jason’s nonstop, positive approach has been crucial to The Daily Journal’s success. He is efficient and attentive to details, while still watching the big picture. His foresight and intimate knowledge of the operation made it possible for him to head off many potential problems.”㄀㄀

Mark Bickel

Mark Bickel, digital editor, The News-Press, Fort Myers
Mark brought an audience-focused strategy to the Web site, which resulted in increased audience, escalating page views and improved multimedia journalism. In 2008, Mark worked on improvements to the redesign to reach double-digit growth. He expanded staffers’ online publishing skills so that editors of topic-specific microsites had more control of the sites. He improved the volume and sophistication of digital photo and video reports, including experiments with live streaming video. He increased text messaging and mobile traffic significantly.

Nominator’s comments: “Mark exhibits talented leadership and journalism skills. He commands respect because he is respectful, organized and responsible. He inspires a work ethic among his team and peers. A great strength is his ability to envision and execute ideas.”

Tracy Collins

Tracy Collins, senior director for operations, The Arizona Republic
Tracy led the Republic’s conversion to the 44-inch web, led a redesign of the community editions and created an environment where multimedia flourished. The 44-inch web project was approached as an opportunity to improve every section and every page of the newspaper. During this effort, Tracy worked with design directors at other metro newspapers, including USA TODAY, to write a position paper on how to work with web issues. Tracy’s understanding of audience targets and passion for the use of non-traditional story formats were central to improvements to the Republic’s geographic community editions.㄀㄀

Nominator’s comments: “Tracy is the go-to person for just about every big project we tackle because of his skill, his professionalism and his sense of humor. He brings the right mix of determination and levity to his work, and as a result, people want to work for and with him. This passion and camaraderie directly enhances the quality of our products — and most importantly — the experience of our readers.”

Kathleen Dijamco

Kathleen Dijamco, news editor, Poughkeepsie Journal
Kathleen converted news operations to a universal copy desk with deeper Web responsibilities. She mapped out every step in the work flow and built strong relationships with other desks. She provided strong training to members of her team on story selection, play, fairness and judgment. Kathleen handles weekend responsibilities and participates in the Journal’s Junior Operating Committee training program. She works with her team to emphasize editing decisions based on audience, reflecting those decisions in story selections and headlines. She understands the importance of diversity in story selection.㄀ Kathleen was a trainer for the newspaper’s High School Journalism Program.㄀

Nominator’s comments: “Kathleen is a perfect example of the indispensable middle manager. She is both the glue and the grease — holding together the Copy Desk and smoothing operations between departments at the same time. The Journal and its readers are better, much better, for Kathleen’s work.”

Ann Goldthwaite-Kris

Ann Goldthwaite-Kris, news editor/regional copy desk, Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers
Ann created and managed a Regional Copy Desk that produces three Gannett Wisconsin newspapers in Oshkosh, Fond du Lac and Sheboygan. The move, completed in six weeks, allowed each site to redirect resources to create new content and products for specific audiences. Ann trained copy editors to understand three distinctly different newspapers and the editing and production demands of each. She is the gatekeeper and advocate for maintaining the local flavor and flair of each publication.

Nominator’s comments: “During the lead-up to the Regional Copy Desk launch, Ann displayed leadership to walk into two newspapers that had very skeptical staffs and try to allay their fears. That’s the difference between being a ‘boss’ and being a ‘leader.’ Ann successfully built a Regional Copy Desk without a blueprint, guiding it through growing pains with innovation and successfully serving the needs of three newspapers while keeping reader interests as a No. 1 priority.”

Bob Heist

Bob Heist, sports editor, The Daily Advertiser, Lafayette, La.
Bob led efforts to produce hard-hitting sports enterprise on topics such as deplorable athletic facilities in Lafayette Parish, the Legislature’s delay of a steroids policy for high school athletes and the educational shortcomings of many public school athletes. He emphasized horse racing in an area that is the birthplace of top-notch jockeys. He navigated coverage of rival schools, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and LSU. He directed Gannett Louisiana’s coverage of LSU, and its football-championship run, as well as the New Orleans Saints. He built strong multimedia components, including high school videos and an “Inside Prep Football” program.

Nominator’s comments: “Bob contributes in a number of ways and areas. But the thing that really sets him apart is his willingness to do whatever he can to serve our audiences and make our products the best they can be. He has made a dramatic difference in our newspaper and our Web site; our readers and viewers have benefited from his hard work and dedication.”

Becky Holt

Becky Holt, associate editor/digital development, The Burlington Free Press
Becky balanced work in online and the Living section during a transition to a new Web site, which required a strong focus on details and training the staff on new skills. She managed the newspaper’s moms site and directed live video streaming. Becky organized online coverage of the election with text, audio and live video. She worked with the digital developer to create a wiki. Her leadership of the Living section garnered a Missouri Lifestyles Award.

Nominator’s comments: “Becky is the epitome of a versatile employee — the Renaissance Editor, truly dedicated and so committed to doing the best she can. She leads by example. She has always rolled up shirtsleeves. In the last year, Becky, as associate editor of digital, has shown she knows how to shape a team.”

Mike Mentzer

Mike Mentzer, managing editor, The Reporter, Fond du Lac
Mike’s work reflects his passion for watchdog journalism, a commitment to serving his community and respect for accuracy and objectivity. Mike showed that passion on June 12, 2008, when the Fond du Lac River broke its banks, flooding thousands of homes, crippling roadways and shutting down utilities. While many staffers were cut off from the Information Center, Mike raced the rising tidewaters to get a print edition off the newspaper’s water-threatened press, while at the same time overseeing a stream of content to Web users. He then produced a weekend edition packed with flood coverage. He coordinated an in-depth series that explored the local impact of alcohol consumption on the community, emphasized diversity coverage initiatives and integrated citizen members on the editorial board.

Nominator’s comments: “Mike’s formal title is ‘managing editor.’ But in our lean operation, he serves a multitude of roles, including quality control expert, ombudsman to the public, writing coach, opinion page editor, night news editor and Sunday columnist. There are few aspects of the Information Center operation in which Mike is not viewed as a defining authority — both internally and among our readers.”

Cory Myers

Cory Myers, senior editor for multimedia, Argus Leader

Cory manages the content for the Argus Leader’s family of Web sites. He and his staff conducted trials with Mogulus and launched our first live streaming editorial board interview with Hillary Clinton. He helped develop a mobile live-streaming backpack to stream breaking news. On Election Day, he organized and directed the use of four video cameras at political party gatherings, resulting in 16 hours of live coverage. He developed a method to cover 10 high school football games using Twitter. He is a co-chair of Argus Leader Media’s Opportunity Committee, a group of managers from all departments who brainstorm new products and methods of delivery.

Nominator’s comments: “Cory is an enthusiastic manager who leads by example — emanating creativity, dedication and enthusiasm. He values public service journalism and embraces the multitude of methods and platforms for writing and presenting good stories. He is excited by innovation and technology and is always looking for the next great idea.”

Eric Pinckney

Eric Pinckney, night editor, Asbury Park Press
Eric leads the night desk team, taking the extra steps to ensure things are done at a high level and guiding the desk through challenging times. His work reflects strong news judgment and line editing and a flair for design. He directs his staff according to the mission. A good judge of talent, Eric matches people to roles that play to their strengths. His work developing individual staff members is significant.㄀ Eric also oversaw the newspaper’s “A Day in the Life of a High School” project.

Nominator’s comments: “Part of the role as a leader is to make the people around him better at what they do, and therefore, making the team better as a whole. In this regard, Eric has shown great strengths.”

Africa Price

Africa Price, managing editor, Tallahassee Democrat
Africa’s skills as a leader allow her to get buy-in from her team, which then takes on tasks with passion and fervor. Not afraid to face challenges, she pushes her staff, providing what’s needed to help individuals develop. Africa measures success by how effectively the newspaper meets the needs of its audiences. A proactive editor, she seeks information to gain expertise and works with newspaperwide departments on special projects. In 2008, she led significant public service efforts, Hurricane Fay coverage and breaking news efforts. Africa serves on the Leadership and Diversity Council for Gannett.

Nominator’s comments: “Everyone in the room relies on Africa for expertise, encouragement and direction … Africa has been a mentor and example. What I admire most about her is her steady, quiet strength. She’s firm when she needs to be, but she always reacts from a place of calm and reason. She never loses her cool.”

Caryn Shinske

Caryn Shinske, assistant news editor/enterprise, Courier News at Bridgewater and Home News Tribune at East Brunswick

Caryn supervises reporting staffs and enterprise coverage at both the Courier News and the Home News Tribune. She established good planning and communication techniques, as well as clear goals and standards for both locations. Caryn worked with the digital team to create a combined Web site. She led her team in the conversion of a TMC to a three-zoned local news product. ㄀㄀

Nominator’s comments: “Caryn is firm, direct, understanding, flexible and unafraid to change. In these uncertain times, she (focused) on producing the best product possible for all platforms, embracing the need to write for the online platform, create compelling coverage for the new weeklies platform and add depth and breadth to the core platform. Because of her good work, the team is always calm, focused and ready to do whatever is necessary to feed our platforms and stay in business.”

Chris Snider

Chris Snider, assistant managing editor/digital, The Des Moines Register
Chris led the team that launched the redesigned, and the site is a model in the company on the use of the home page. He grew Des Moines’ use of mobile through text message alerts and Twitter. Chris led the launch of Des Moines Metromix, which is No. 2 behind Chicago in Metromix traffic and No. 3 for unique visitors. He worked with the data team and Advertising to launch a home improvement services section on the Web site. He champions a live news culture and works to add content improvements to the site daily. He brought sophisticated approaches to journalism, especially the Iowa Caucuses coverage and storms and flood coverage.

Nominator’s comments: “Chris is a strong leader, strategic, creative and results-oriented. He initiates continuous improvement more than almost anyone I have worked with. He partners to take advantage of others’ expertise. He stays focused on the job to be done and is a great problem solver to accomplish it.”

Belinda Stewart

Belinda Stewart, metro editor, FLORIDA TODAY at Brevard County, Fla.
Belinda develops deep enterprise and drives spot news to the Web every day. She led coverage online and in print of a disastrous year of fire and rain when Tropical Storm Fay drowned the county with 25 inches of rain. She supervised projects on hunger in the county and power plant emissions. Belinda started a “Quick Launch” team that focused resources on quick-turn enterprise coverage and emphasized the need for database work and document-driven reporting.

Nominator’s comments: “Belinda’s intensity and passion for what she does is unquestionable. She sets this tone as a leader to her employees who respect her — and as an added bonus — like her, too. Belinda’s leadership style certainly works well in good times and is even more valuable in these challenging times.”

Carrie Yale

Carrie Yale, assistant managing editor/photography, The Journal News, Westchester
Carrie contributes to the Information Center effort with dynamic story suggestions, news tips and project concepts. She launched “First-Time Voters,” a print and multimedia project developed into a series of stories featuring young people who were voting for the first time. Carrie manages the newspaper’s coverage of more than 100 high school graduations. She collaborated with online producers of Metromix and Momslikeme to provide photos, video and special event coverage and guided her team in producing hyper-local visual content.

Nominator’s comments: “Carrie leads with her dedication to telling stories, her determination to lead in the industry and her humanity for the community that we cover. There are more people who view our sites due to Carrie’s drive and understanding of what viewers/readers in our community need and want. It is hard to lead in transition, but our success in our multimedia department is, in large part, due to her skills as a supervisor.”㄀

Last Modified: January, 2009