We have been talking a lot about our mission lately.
It is sometimes important to step away from what we do to ask ourselves why we are doing it, to refocus on work that corresponds to our fundamental values. The healthy debate about our goals and our future has helped unite the newsroom around a common goal:
The Dispatch will hold the powerful accountable, illuminate injustices, and engage and celebrate the community as attentive listeners. We are committed to helping people navigate everyday life as an accurate and evolving news organization that reflects the diversity of Greater Columbus.
This is a noble mission and a testament to the passion and commitment of Dispatch reporters, who work every day to shine a light on Greater Columbus. It also reinforces our commitment not only to working for the community, but with you.
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Monday is my last day at The Dispatch. I’m moving to Madison, Wisconsin to run the Wisconsin State Journal, a newspaper in my home state that I’ve admired since I was 12. Moving will bring me much closer to my family.
As excited as I am to be home, leaving this staff – and this city – is bittersweet.
I’ve built a family here too, and I’m so proud to have led a staff that relentlessly pursues the issues that make this community better.
Over the past 18 years, I have watched Columbus grow. A once sleepy downtown has flourished with condos, restaurants, and the beautiful Columbus Commons at its heart. I had a front row seat as the city grappled with its issues, from income inequality to affordable housing to police reform.
The newspaper has also evolved. We have become a digital-focused newsroom committed to delivering the latest news to your favorite device while continuing to serve as a watchdog for public officials and institutions.
We faced our problems.
The newsroom did not reflect the community we cover, and we needed to increase diversity in both staff and coverage.
Diversity on the rise:Annual Newsroom Staffing Report Shows Increase in Diversity at The Dispatch
There are communities that we haven’t covered well in the past, and we’ve worked hard to change that. Through hiring, training, and initiatives like the Mobile Newsroom, we continue to work to reflect and reach all residents of this city.
This growth does not happen without partnerships and without the support of readers and the community. We call ourselves the watchdogs of Greater Columbus, but we are also residents and partners in facing problems and celebrating success.
When we launched our mobile newsrooms, where reporters work in neighborhoods we don’t cover well enough, the Columbus Metropolitan Library offered us a place to work. They also offered to train customers in the use of our e-Edition. Like us, the library believes that information is power and they have been excellent partners.
Mobile Newsroom Newsletter:Dispatch Mobile Newsroom now offers a newsletter focused on underrepresented neighborhoods
The Columbus Foundation supported our efforts to have Report for America reporter Yilun Cheng cover immigration. Understanding immigration and new residents to Greater Columbus is key to fostering a welcoming city.
The Foundation, along with United Way and other partners, has also supported our Everyday Heroes program to recognize the unsung heroes among us.
I had the honor of being part of the class of 2020 from Leadership Columbus. There I met a group of dedicated community leaders who continue to support me and this newspaper. Together we worked on service projects to improve Greater Columbus that continue to this day.
A partnership with Ohio State University enables young journalists to gain experience in the newsroom through internships and gives us the opportunity to mentor the next generation of newsroom managers.
And when The Dispatch staff faces a crisis, the first people to reach out are pastors and church leaders. They supported us when we lost a colleague and encouraged us when we won awards.
But the real thanks go to you, the readers who support our efforts and call us when you see something you don’t like. You inspire us to be better, to work harder to watch over your public money and institutions, and to write stories that help readers navigate their lives.
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I treasured the emails and calls that offered support, story ideas, and sometimes critiques of the changes we made. These are all valuable feedback to improve your Dispatch Columbus.
This strong team of journalists will continue this mission as Gannett searches for a new publisher. Encarnacion editor Pyle will lead daily news operations and Beryl Love, editor of The Enquirer, our sister newspaper in Cincinnati, will serve as acting editor.
Thank you for your support and loyalty. I will encourage you from afar.
Kelly Lecker is acting editor of The Dispatch.