Columnist adds new second hat

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So I’ve been named as The Gazette’s Insight Editor. Take a moment to wipe up the coffee you just spit.

I concede, the notion of anyone seeing me as management material is surprising and a little frightening. I’m following in the footsteps of Jennifer Hemmingsen, an outstanding journalist who has accepted an editorial writing job in the Cayman Islands. Can you imagine, escaping to a tropical paradise? Can you imagine, taking over a job that may have had a hand in prompting a person to escape to a tropical paradise?

It’s exciting, with a side of hmm ...

I’m betting her very first editorial will advocate branding the Caymans, Jamaica and Cuba as the “Rum Corridor.”

OK, maybe not.

Back here in the Iowa’s Creative Corridor, I’m learning my new duties, tasks and responsibilities. Thankfully, I have a lot of talented, extremely patient people helping me out. You’ll note today’s page is not blank. Progress.

Even as I become an editor, I will remain a columnist. That will be a great relief to many, many people, I’m sure.

“Congratulations on your column in Sunday’s Gazette,” a reader wrote to me recently. “You win the award for the most adolescent piece of tripe ever to appear in print.”

OK, not everyone will be relieved.

Make no mistake. I’ll be wearing two distinct hats.

As a columnist, I’ll continue scribbling my own take on issues, politics, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The column is my opinion and mine alone.

As opinion editor, I’ll be a caretaker of some pretty important print and digital real estate. It’s space that is in many ways community property. Residing in that space will be all sorts of perspectives, right, left, center, up, down and sideways. We’ll still be giving lots of space to guest columns written by people in our community on our local issues and challenges.

We’ll also have our weekly slate of Gazette editorials, which reflect the consensus view of our editorial board.

I realize there will be folks who know the stands I’ve taken in columns and figure I’ll turn our Insight pages into a forum only for writers who think like I do. That’s not going to happen. We’ll still feature a diversity of opinions that are relevant, thoughtful, factually supported and respectfully argued. We’ll still offer our space to people with expertise and unique experiences. That’s not changing.

We’ll likely be trying some new features and new approaches in the weeks and months ahead. For example, I’d like to tap The Gazette’s rich history and regularly highlight some of stands we’ve take on issues in our past with renewed relevance now.

We’ll be looking for new and better ways to foster community engagement. And yes, we’ll still be getting together for Pints and Politics. By the way, the next one is June 29 at Millstream Brewing in Amana. Shameless plug.

If you’ve got ideas, please, share them. As always my inbox, phone and door are open to comments, criticism, praise and suggestions. Advice is welcome.

“Wow, if you really feel that way about Branstad, I would recommend Prozac,” a reader recently recommend.

OK, most advice.

l Comments: (319) 398-8452; todd.dorman@thegazette.com

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