A western Massachusetts newspaper is under new leadership.
The Berkshire Eagle management team has a new look. Tom Tripicco assumes the role as the paper’s managing editor, after Kevin Moran moved up to serve as regional vice president of news for New England Newspapers, Inc., which manages the Eagle and other regional papers. For the past eight years Tripicco has been the paper’s deputy managing editor and says moving into the lead role wasn’t necessarily his plan.
“But when you get more drawn into the newsroom decision making and some of the higher level planning that goes on, I guess it’s inevitable,” Tripicco said. “You kind of get pulled into the vortex. As much as do I enjoy what I have been doing for the past few years, being more and more involved with content editing, working with the reporters directly in their writing and doing a lot more coaching with reporters, this will be a different challenge.”
Tripicco started his journalism career as a news clerk in 1987 at The Poughkeepsie Journal and moved up the ladder to regional editor before coming to the Eagle in 2005. He admits he faces a daunting task filling Moran’s shoes, who served as the paper’s editor for eight years before taking on the new role in August.
“So no matter what the platform you’re working on there is this core level of just storytelling that I really value,” Tripicco said. “I’m always trying to import that to reporters that I’m working with. The need to put yourself in your readers’ shoes. You’re writing for readers, you’re not writing for yourself.”
Moran — an occasional voice on WAMC, which bases its Berkshire Bureau in the Eagle’s building — also announced current Eagle education reporter Jenn Smith will take on an additional role in the brand-new position of community engagement editor. Moran says Smith will serve as a sort of public liaison to help the paper expand its involvement in the community, but also provide an avenue for the public to have their stories appear on the paper’s pages.
“With technology being an equal to a street nowadays and the fact that we interact with readers on daily basis, newspapers across the United States are doing this,” said Moran.
Moran says the Eagle’s newsroom staffing of 30 people has remained unchanged over the past five years, unlike the trend in most print newsrooms. The paper’s daily circulation is more than 23,000 and Moran adds the consumption of its news is higher than it’s ever been as the number of visitors to its website has tripled in the past five years. In 2011, the paper’s website had more than 327,000 unique visitors a month. Tripicco says Smith, a native of the Berkshires, is an asset for the paper and the community.
“She seems to know everybody,” Tripicco said. “As I get Facebook friends in this area it tells me everybody is a mutual friend of Jenn. It’s pretty remarkable. That’s really where her strength lies in this capacity.”
Smith says a flood of messages over the phone, email and social media are already keeping her busy in her new role, a position she says found her.
“My first job here at the Eagle was working part-time nights as a news clerk and an obit clerk, my other nights were spent as a hostess at the Dakota Steak House and then during the day I was a substitute teacher,” Smith explained. “So I have a good sense of all the different things that go on here in the community. I’ve met so many people, so people feel comfortable reaching out to me.”