WatchBlog: One editor says goodbye and introduces the new editor

By WV Watchdog on February 21, 2012
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CHARLESTON — Change is always a necessary thing, though it’s rarely something that comes easy. In this case, I have the sad duty of saying goodbye and and the proud duty to introduce my successor.

I was hired by the Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia in April of 2009 to help mold a journalism and transparency program. The first website launched in June 2009, but we joined the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity‘s Watchdog.org network, starting West Virginia Watchdog in Sept. 2009.

Since then, my stories have helped shine the light on phantom congressional districts receiving stimulus funding, the circle of earmarks from and donations to former Rep. Alan Mollohan, the federal investigations of actions during the Manchin administration, and much more.

I’ve helped bring greater transparency to state government, county government, legislation, statewide elections, and candidates. I wish I could have done more, but all things considered I feel I did a good job. Judging by the growth in readership, I’d say you agree as well.

But I am a man who enjoys new challenges, and I’ve been given a new challenge. I’m leaving West Virginia Watchdog to take a job as a news producer for WOWK-TV 13 here in Charleston. Once I go through training I’ll be one of the producers for the morning news and the weekly Decision Makers public affairs show. I start this job tomorrow.

My background is in print and radio news, plus the nearly two years I’ve ran this online publication. I’ve never done TV news before, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. But I will greatly miss the work I’ve done here at West Virginia Watchdog.

First, I’d like to thank Jim Shaffer with the PPF for all he has done. Think tank-sponsored journalism is a risky endeavor, and many think tanks micromanage their reporters. It’s been the exact opposite for me. Jim gave me unprecedented freedom to pursue any story, providing very little oversight. I doubt many newspaper reporters get that much freedom. Jim has been less a boss and more a second father whose friendship I cherish.

Secondly, I’d like to thank Jason Stverak and the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity for sponsoring this project. They provided much needed support, training, and and equipment, as well as friendship and camaraderie. I hope they’ll continue to support West Virginia Watchdog in the future.

Now, I’d like to introduce the new managing editor of West Virginia Watchdog: Bob Bird.

No, not the zombified former senator. No doubt Bob gets that joke a lot, and is also likely tired of that joke. Bob Bird is a freelance photographer and Editor of the Boone Examiner. He’s been doing great work in hyperlocal journalism and photojournalism for a while, plus he is a good friend. I can’t think of a better person to run West Virginia Watchdog.

Also expect new writers to start contributing to WV Watchdog. But until Bob and the others get up-to-speed on how to post articles, expect posts to be light for a few days. Please be patient and we’ll be back in working order very very soon.

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