Report to Readers: The new boss is a ‘Monitor’ veteran
Back in 1988, when I was a very green Monitor reporter, my boss, then-City Editor Mark Travis, sent me to cover a meeting where Concord officials would give their blessing to construction of the Steeplegate Mall. Sure, it was among the most momentous occasions in the city’s development, but I was a kid from the suburbs where malls were a dime a dozen – what did I know? I filed a terse, 300-word story in about 20 minutes and called it a night. Piece of cake!
Travis, needless to say, was not impressed. Really, that could have been the end for me and journalism. Thank goodness he was willing to give me a second chance!
As you perhaps read in yesterday’s Monitor, Travis is about to become the boss all over again. Publisher John Winn Miller is leaving after two years in Concord, and Travis will take the helm here in mid-January.
Miller, who will return to his home in Kentucky to pursue movie and television writing projects, brought to the Monitor fresh eyes and the experience of having practiced journalism and newspaper management all over the country. He jumped into community life and, though he was responsible for all facets of the newspaper’s operations, was particularly interested in the newsroom and the sometimes eye-opening stories we get to cover. Notably, he had tough questions for the presidential primary candidates who auditioned here last winter.
Travis is taking over at a particularly challenging time in the newspaper industry, but it’s hard to imagine anyone better positioned to lead the Monitor at this juncture.
He comes to us from Valley News of Lebanon, the Monitor’s sister paper, where he is publisher. But most of his career has been at the Monitor, and his knowledge of the paper and our community is deep. He and his family lived for many years in Canterbury, and he has recently published a novel set in 19th-century Concord. (Note to staff: Want to get in good with the new boss? Get yourself a copy of Pliney Fiske: A Civil War Mystery and read it, pronto!)
And just consider the range of jobs he has held at the Monitor: Pittsfield correspondent, lead reporter, city editor, managing editor, editorial page editor, circulation director and more. He was the first editor of the Sunday Monitor, which debuted in 1992. He was the first publisher of the weekly Concord Insider. (In other words, when he suggested that the mall story was sort of a big deal, he probably knew what he was talking about.)
Once Travis settles in, he will no doubt want to share with readers more about his plans and aspirations for the newspaper and concord
monitor.com. But in the meantime, I thought I’d tell you a bit about our new boss.
For starters, this is a guy who can get you to do what he wants not through yelling but through just a few choice words and a stern look. (When I weaseled into the office late on my first day as a junior editor, Travis looked utterly disappointed and said, “Felice, editors arrive on time.” Yikes. That’s all it took.)
In this field, even the loftiest jobs come with a quotient of thankless tasks – but Travis is the sort of boss who can make the most unlikely projects seem like fun. (Survey all the candidates for the New Hampshire House and edit their responses into something smart and readable? Right on, chief!)
He takes every bit of the newspaper seriously and makes young journalists understand that their smallest assignments are important to readers and worth doing well.
He’s a gifted writer and editor who teaches through example the virtue in keeping the words and sentences and paragraphs simple.
And like the best journalists, he’s curious about everything. He has written and edited terrific Monitor projects about Concord Hospital, UNH hockey, Christa McAuliffe and more.
Back in the 1990s, Travis and I spent a year of Saturday nights together, producing the Sunday morning newspaper when the “designing” was done with pencils and paper, erasers and Wite-Out. There was way too much work (and way too many McDonald’s dinners), but he made us all want to create the best paper we could and have some fun doing it. What more, really, could you ask for?
There is considerable uncertainty about the future of American newspapers, of course. There are all sorts of experiments going on these days – some inspiring, some heartbreaking – as publishers and editors grapple with changing habits of news consumers and advertisers. No doubt there is change in our future, too. But readers in New Hampshire who care about the Monitor should feel fortunate. We’re in good hands.
(Felice Belman can be reached at email@example.com or 369-3370.)