Inside Information

Lessons learned at the Tracy Press

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Hello. Today I thought I might go a bit longer than normal and share a few things I have learned throughout my time as editor of the Tracy Press.

First I should thank Will Fleet, co-owner and publisher of the Tracy Press. When he bought this newspaper in 2012, one of his earliest moves was to hire a broadcast journalist to lead his newsroom whose only print experience was 20 years old. Time and again I have watched him make decisions about the Tracy Press that value making a difference over making a buck. I am gratified to call him mentor and friend.

One of the earliest and most important things I learned is that being a good editor is about more than good journalism — you have to stand up as a civic leader. I quickly learned that the editor of the Tracy Press can do some real good by engaging with the community and not standing apart from it. I tried to give a platform to as many groups as we could, starting with the first one I covered: Chest of Hope — a group founded by Ms. Merlyn Pittman to help victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking.

I have also learned how easy it is to lose trust. There was a time when the Tracy Press was seen by several local institutions as an enemy combatant. I spent a great deal of my early days trying to reestablish respectful relations with everyone from the Tracy Police Department to the Scouts. I never promised we would aid them, only that we would treat them fairly and allow them the opportunity to respond to any story we would run. We not only had to be trustworthy, we had to be so consistently.

Respect engenders trust. Practice it in your life and see if it’s not true.

There is no normal day for the editor of the Tracy Press. No job description could encompass what I have done in six years. I have helped create a magazine, delivered newspapers, handed them out to ACE train commuters at 5 a.m., handled historic documents, arranged a family reunion for a family that was not my own, designed websites, helped run the editorial side of a small media company, become a music scout and an event planner, designed an art installation (which I helped hang one year), and allowed a group of children to beat me with foam swords and broadcast it live.

I have loved every minute as editor of the newspaper I grew up reading. I have reveled in the things we have created — including “Celebrate Tracy” and a social media base that is truly awesome.

My faith in good journalism has been renewed by the staff here. Bob Brownne, Glenn Moore and Melanie Smith love this community and this newspaper and deserve to have you know their names.

In fact, all of those who work here are dedicated people who love to serve this community. I continue to be amazed at the level of commitment to Tracy that is practiced by every person in this building.

And that leads me to one last piece of advice for you: Love what you do. Everything you do.

I have had more jobs in my life than I can quickly recall. As a journalist, I have had a 25-year career in print, broadcast, radio and online media. I would do nothing differently.

My time at the Tracy Press might be the most rewarding things I have ever done. I have served you as best I could and tried to uphold the honor of my co-workers and of my profession. And never, not one day, have I not enjoyed serving you.

I will always remember when I was the executive editor of the Tracy Press.

Thank you.

Michael Ellis Langley was raised in Tracy and returned home as editor of the Press in 2013.

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