At least that’s what we here at E&P gathered after reviewing the nominations for this year’s 25 Under 35 feature. Not just the 25 we selected to feature, but every one of the more than 80 nominations we received pointed to young professionals in the newspaper industry who are extremely talented, forward-thinking and hard-working. All were so talented, in fact, that it was tougher than ever to select just 25 to feature.
Take the case of Jessica Puente. At just 24, and hired by the (Riverside, Calif.) Press-Enterprise just six weeks before the launch of a metered paywall, Jessica built a member center, a subscriber communication strategy and a newsletter strategy. She also led the training for the newsroom for social and Google search. I know what I was doing at age 24, and it wasn’t anything as advanced and productive as what Jessica has accomplished.
Then, there is Dan Petty, 27. In the four years since he was an intern at The Denver Post, Dan has become a digital leader in his newsroom. He became the Post’s first Social Media Editor at the ripe, old age of 23 and now, in his current role as Digital Director of Sports, he is responsible for planning and leading digital coverage for sports events, from the Broncos to the Rockies and Nuggets and Avalanche to the Olympics. Dan also has worked with Denver Post newsroom leadership to help train staff on social media and the use of digital tools in reporting—all of which was helpful during The Post’s award-winning wildfire coverage and Pulitzer-winning Aurora shooting coverage. He says humbly that his last two jobs at The Post were “ones that didn’t previously exist because I and others made the case that they were necessary to push us forward and make us a better news organization.”
And what about Patrick Mackie, 29, advertising manager of The Repository in Canton, Ohio? After joining the company in 2010 as the business development manager for About magazine, a monthly lifestyle magazine produced by the newspaper, Patrick, in 2013, was charged with the responsibility of overseeing all niche publications for GateHouse Ohio Media, which includes The Repository, The Independent, The Times-Reporter and The Suburbanite. Then, late in 2013, he was promoted to advertising manager for The Repository, making him the youngest person ever hired in that leadership position.
Finally, we have Rachel Piper, 27, managing editor of the Salt Lake City Weekly. Rachel is the youngest managing editor that City Weekly has seen in its 30 years. Involved in every piece printed in the paper, she also oversees and imposes strict editorial quality standards on City Weekly’s 15 special issues per year, including three standalone glossies. During her tenure, she has also taken on five new special issues.
Rachel’s key to success? “Always say ‘yes’ ” she said. That means, as seemed a personal work theme with all of our young stars featured here, to let go of your fears and take on whatever you can to learn and improve your life as a professional and that of your newspaper.
That is what is so particularly gratifying about these young professionals. They’re in it for the betterment of newspaperdom and journalism.
Listen, I’m an old codger in comparison to some of these “kids”, but I have no doubt that our industry is in good, able hands with them.