Help us help the newspaper work for you

Jun. 05, 2013 @ 04:49 PM

Ten years ago, I walked away from journalism and never looked back.

Well, that was the plan, anyway.

I worked for more than a decade at The St. Petersburg Times, during one of its final expansionist periods, when I had the opportunity to launch a regional edition and a new bureau. But I got burned out and turned my creative energies in another direction.

I jumped careers to video game design, helped launch a Cary-based project called Fallen Earth and really enjoyed the experience - up until the layoffs. Working on games, it turns out, is a lot like working on a television show or, worse, a movie. Production crews ramp up during the design phase, but slough people after launch. Gaming companies, by and large, are not ideal for long-term job security.

That's OK if you're a young person, comfortable with bouncing from place to place without really putting down many roots. But it's sub-optimal for a 40-something who wants to settle down and start a family.

I'm a Florida native, a science fiction and fantasy nerd, a movie fan, a recently baptized Greek Orthodox and a newlywed. My wife, Catherine, and I live in Watts Hospital, not far from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. We've got a dog, a cat and a brand-new son.

I still love video games.

But here I am, back in journalism. Shockingly, despite the avalanche slide of print journalism since the rise of the internet, the job still seems more secure than game design. And, it turns out, I still love the "what happens next?" feeling that comes with each new day in the newspaper business. Only now, it seems like that sensation is measured in hours or less.

In June 2012, I joined the staff of The Herald-Sun as K-12 education reporter, covering issues related to the region's public and private schools. In February 2013, I shifted to the position of news editor, with responsibilities ranging from managing the opinion pages and editing copy to social media promotion of our paper.

Now, with the return of a veteran editor, Nancy Wykle, to the team, my role morphs again. From now on, I focus on website content at heraldsun.com, social media efforts on our Facebook page at facebook.com/theheraldsun and on Twitter at @TheHerald_Sun and this column every Saturday.

We remain devoted to the print edition of our newspaper, but my new job signals a clear commitment to developing our website as a vital resource for readers of The Herald-Sun. We plan to provide new and dynamic content that explores boundaries beyond the traditional constraints of print journalism and takes our newspaper deeper into the 21st Century.

Now, more than ever, we need your help to keep all your neighbors informed about what's happening around Durham and Orange counties and make sure that The Herald-Sun reflects the communities that we serve. We want a newspaper and a website that demonstrate an intensely local focus while also providing a broader context with news from around the nation and the world.

Send ideas for news and feature stories to our central email address at news@heraldsun.com.

I'm excited about the next step in The Herald-Sun's evolution. I'm glad I looked back.


Contact Wes Platt at 919-419-6684 or wplatt@heraldsun.com. Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at facebook.com/wesplattheraldsun.