Editor's Views: Gazette trains journalists and wishes them well

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Scott Angus
Saturday, November 9, 2013

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how The Gazette has retained talented journalists for years if not decades and how our largely veteran newsroom is an asset to the newspaper and community.

Today, I'm writing about the opposite end of the spectrum. We get our share of talented young people, and we welcome their skills and perspectives. Keeping them in the fold, however, is a challenge.

That's OK. We know our place in the newspaper world, and we're content with it. At least most of us are.

We learned last week that one of the brightest young reporters we've had in years is moving on after just nine months in Janesville. Nico Savidge came to us by way of the UW-Madison School of Journalism and an internship at the Wisconsin State Journal.

In years gone by, the competition among nearby newspapers was fierce, and we rarely shared much. These days, we've all carved out niches and are doing our best to serve them, and we're not much interested in venturing into another paper's territory. We've got enough work to do in our own backyards.

So when Savidge was looking for a full-time job after finishing his State Journal internship early this year and we had an opening, we contacted the editors in Madison. They gladly offered a glowing endorsement. We responded quickly and brought him on board. Since then, he's done a fine job for us.

Then, early last week, I got an email from State Journal Editor John Smalley informing me that the paper now had a full-time opening and wanted Savidge back. Smalley was extending a courtesy to let us know his paper was courting our reporter. I appreciated it.

Not surprisingly, Savidge accepted the offer at the bigger paper in the bigger city, and he'll leave us for Madison at the end of the month.

Understandably, many of our staff members were upset. Not only is Savidge a strong reporter with great potential, but he's also a good guy. He'll be hard to replace.

Yes, it's frustrating to lose talented people after only a few years—or less. I wish we could keep all of them for years and years. I've been doing this long enough to know better.

We do well with journalists who come to Janesville or the area and want to establish themselves at a stable, solid newspaper and settle into a nice community. That's the case with the many veterans I mentioned two weeks ago and others who are piling up the years with us.

On the other end, The Gazette for many years has been a great training ground for aspiring reporters and editors on their way up. We typically hire people who were standouts in college or who have proved themselves at smaller papers. They come here and learn from our talented stable of journalists, and they leave for opportunities and often more pay in bigger markets.

Savidge will join two Gazette alumni at the State Journal who have gone on to make their marks there. We've sent a handful to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and we've got former workers doing great things at the Milwaukee Business Journal, the Chicago Tribune and other places.

That's how things work. I always hate to see them leave, but I'm grateful to have had them. I'm also gratified that we've played a role in making them good enough to become key contributors at some of the region's biggest and best publications.

All I ask is that they remember what role we've played in their growth and, if appropriate, say good things about us to others they meet along their career paths. That helps us when the time comes for us to attract new talent to fill the latest opening on our staff.

Scott W. Angus is editor of The Gazette and vice president of news for Bliss Communications. His email is sangus@gazettextra.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @sangus_.

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