Transition, if you stick around long enough, is something every organization deals with. As a small business owner, it can be especially challenging — you only have so many employees, and each one is valuable in their own way. They are the reason the business is going to be successful.
We’re dealing with noteworthy transitions at the Methow Valley News this week. Our longtime graphic designer, IT expert and Social Media Goddess (I bestowed that title), Darla Hussey, is departing the paper — but, thank goodness, not the valley — for another opportunity that fits her multiple talents and interests.
Apart from the newspaper, a lot of people in the community know Darla as the face-painting lady (often assisted by her sons, Dean and Kenny), or as the costume creator/set designer/makeup artist for productions at The Merc Playhouse, or in other capacities. She stays busy.
Darla has been a major force for good and necessary changes at the newspaper, from technology to software to publication and advertising design to social media management to furnishings to generating new revenues … pretty much everything. If we needed something, chances are Darla had it in her desk or truck. When changes were necessary, she had great ideas. We have relied on Darla for so much that I’m uncertain how we’ll get all those things done without her. But as she noted to me, she’s not going to Outer Mongolia — or even Inner Mongolia, which I think is actually farther away.
As much as she improved our workplace, Darla also enhanced it with her vibrant personality, no-BS approach to problem-solving, and wicked wit (you might even say perverse sense of humor, pretty much a requisite for newsrooms). We’ll dearly miss her on a day-day-to basis. As I told Darla, I’m happy for her, terrified for us.
If you think you can help us reduce the stress of transition, see the job description in the employment section of our classified ads. If it seems a little daunting, it should. Newspaper design, among all the other qualifications for the position, is a special skill set. You have to be able to do it competently at high speed, under intense pressure, with deadlines bearing down while dealing with editors who might ask you to rip it up and start over as the clock ticks away. It’s definitely a heat-and-kitchen proposition. We are fortunate to have another skilled and creative designer, LaShelle Easton, on board, but she is only able to spare us a certain number of hours a week from her veterinary practice.
The “incoming” part of this week’s transition is the addition of a new reporter, Malcolm Griffes, who will be on the job by the time you read this. He replaces Ralph Schwartz.
Malcolm is a fortunate find in a several important respects: He is an experienced print and broadcast journalist with a flair for storytelling. His references tell me he is a nice guy. And, he already lives in the Methow Valley, having moved to the Lost River area with his fiancé just last week. Malcolm is an ardent rock climber, which was one of the attractions to the Methow. He also, it turns out, knows something about newspaper design and is familiar with all the popular social media platforms. But we’re going to keep him pretty much on the reporter track.
Malcolm graduated from the University of Washington with a journalism degree, and worked for local community newspapers while in school. He later worked as a reporter and writer at Seattle Metropolitan Magazine, as a reporter for KPLU radio (an NPR station) in Seattle, and as a fact-checker for several magazines owned by Seattle Metropolitan’s parent company. Most recently, he spent a year as and urban environmental educator for the Seattle Audubon Society, where he created and directed programs for students in a variety of age groups and settings, among other tasks. He also is a volunteer with Vertical Generations, a nonprofit that introduces underserved youth to rock climbing.
Malcolm says he’s enthused about getting back into a newsroom setting and helping us tell the Methow’s story. You’ll be seeing him around as he gets to know the community.