With nearly a decade working in journalism doing everything from radio news to reporting and editing, new Fulton Sun editor Kevin M. Smith says he is looking forward to establishing himself and the paper as a solid voice for the community.
"(Readers can expect) gradual, but significant changes; more local editorials, more local opinion columns, seeing more of the staff - myself and the reporters - out in the community and feeling like the newspaper is really a part of the community," Smith said. "It's already clear how important the newspaper is to the community because of all of the submitted photos, news items and story ideas, and I'm excited to see that level of participation continue.
"I'm excited about how well the staff knows the community. ... and that is what is going to make us a success. Everyone on staff is very familiar with the community and the issues and activities, so we can utilize that to cover it well."
Smith said Fulton Sun readers also can expect a stronger online and social media presence "to better inform the community and get more reader interaction ... so we can do a better job reporting on the things that are important to them."
A 2004 graduate of Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kan., Smith said he knew from an early age - he used to play newspaper as a child - that writing and journalism were careers he was interested in. He said Pittsburg State was where that idea was solidified by four years of work at the campus newspaper.
"It was a great place because it was small, but not too small, and I had the opportunity to get hands-on with every aspect of it," Smith said.
His career since graduation has included stints in radio promotion, radio news and The Daily Union in Junction City, Kan. After a little over a year working as a reporter covering the city beat in Killeen, Texas, Smith realized he "wanted to get more hands-on with the final product again" and made the move to the weekly newspaper The Kearney Courier near Kansas City, where he has served as editor for the past five years.
"It was really fun. That's when I decided community journalism was really what I wanted to do," Smith said. "Community newspapers are still viable in a field that is uncertain, because where else are you going to get the Fulton High School football score, or read about what's happening at the Fulton City Council or the Mokane City council?
"Where else are you going to read about things happening in this community that are not big enough to be picked up by broadcast or other regional newspapers, but are still important to the people who live here and work here every day?"