By DANIEL KITTREDGE Herald Editor Almost eight years ago, in December 2013, I walked into the Warwick Beacon's offices for the first time as editor of the Cranston Herald. It was a homecoming for me after more than seven years working at the Gardner
Almost eight years ago, in December 2013, I walked into the Warwick Beacon’s offices for the first time as editor of the Cranston Herald.
It was a homecoming for me after more than seven years working at the Gardner News, a six-day-a-week newspaper covering seven communities in North Central Massachusetts. I grew up in Cranston, went through the city’s public schools and graduated from East in 2002, and while college in Worcester and my first full-time job had taken me to the Bay State for more than a decade, I’d remained a regular visitor to my native Rhode Island during those years.
Being closer to friends and loved ones was a major motivator in my move home. But there was much more that drew me to the opportunity with the Herald.
Those of us who’ve grown up or lived here know what a special place Cranston is. It’s a community steeped in history and rich in diversity, a place in which generations of families from a broad range of backgrounds have aspired to build a better life. It’s a city with a little bit of everything that makes Rhode Island so unique and wonderful, from the wide streets and water views of Edgewood to the forests and farmlands of Western Cranston.
More than anything, though, Cranston stands out for its commitment to its residents. Our school system, our libraries, our police and fire services, our public works, our recreational facilities and programs – all of these, and more, have rightly earned a reputation as among the very best in the state, and often the nation. There are always places to improve, and work clearly remains to ensure all segments of our community have the level of access and opportunity they deserve. But on the whole, Cranstonians can be extremely proud of what has been built here in Rhode Island’s now second-largest city.
Few people in journalism are afforded the chance to serve as editor of their hometown newspaper. For me, coming home to do that in Cranston has been a humbling and deeply meaningful experience.
I remember how special it was for my parents and grandparents to see my name or picture, or those of my sisters, Sarah and Rebecca, in the Herald when we were growing up, whether for achievements in school, sports, Scouting or other activities. Those clippings, tucked away with other prized family keepsakes, are among the mementos my sisters and I will cherish for years to come.
It’s hard to put into words what it means to know I’ve been part of facilitating that same experience for my neighbors. In a business that can be stressful – and which, as most know, has encountered serious challenges in recent years – I’ve often taken comfort in reflecting on just how many other Herald clippings like my family’s are hanging on refrigerators, displayed on walls or tucked away in closets across our city, some even bearing my byline. Honestly, it can be emotional to contemplate, but it fills me with so much pride.
Covering Cranston has been exciting, especially coming as I did from the beautiful and vibrant but very rural communities of the Gardner area. I’ve gotten to know elected leaders, developers, business people, attorneys, high-ranking officials and other prominent personalities. I’ve covered visits from past presidents and candidates for the nation’s highest office. I’ve moderated mayoral debates and City Council forums, interviewed governors and state officers, appeared on other local media outlets to discuss political campaigns.
I’ve gone so many places in and learned countless things about my city that I never knew before, all thanks to this job.
Most rewarding have been the chances to tell the stories of everyday Cranstonians – the people who live and work here, who make a positive difference in the lives of their neighbors without seeking the spotlight.
The Herald has also embraced the responsibility of telling the stories that matter to Cranstonians, keeping a close eye on issues of public interest in City Hall and beyond. In that effort, I hope we’ve been successful and that readers feel our paper has helped make them more informed citizens. I hope, too, that people in the arena – officials, candidates, advocates, others – feel the Herald has been firm, fair, honest and accessible in its coverage.
I owe the opportunity I’ve enjoyed here to John Howell, publisher of Beacon Communications and editor of the Warwick Beacon. What he’s built at the Beacon over more than five decades – and with the addition of the Herald, Johnston Sun Rise and Coventry Reminder over the years – is a vital, irreplaceable part of the fabric of our communities. I can’t thank John enough for his contributions to our profession and his faith in me. His stature in the Rhode Island journalism community is incomparable, as is the example he continues to set each day through his devotion to our craft.
There are so many other wonderful, talented people I’ve been lucky to work alongside here at the Herald, Beacon and Sun Rise. Richard Fleischer, Mary Johnson, Jacob Marrocco, Will Geoghegan, Jen Cowart, Meri Kennedy, Steve Popiel, Pam Schiff, Lynne Taylor, Jerry Charnley, Sue Howarth, Lisa Bourque Yuettner, Linda Nadeau, Kelcy Dolan, Donna Zarrella, Janice Torilli, Suzanne Wendoloski, Leslie Paz Andujar, Lisa Mardenli Cohen, Don Fowler, the late Joe Kernan, Tim Forsberg, Alex Sponseller, Rory Schuler, Alex Malm, Natalie Payette, Margaret Andreozzi, Bob Giberti, Kevin Pomeroy, Matt Metcalf, Matt Bower, Brian Geary, Stephanie Bernaba, Pete Fontaine – many have moved on to other things, and I’m surely forgetting at least a couple of names, but all of these folks have played a significant role in the success of our newspapers over the last several years.
Many thanks, also, to all the other people who’ve made the Herald possible, and continue to do so, from behind the scenes – among them delivery drivers, columnists, letter to the editor writers, callers and tipsters, contacts at community organizations, and of course our advertisers.
In particular, I am eternally grateful to those who saw us through the pandemic, working on under such unimaginably trying circumstances. As the very foundations of our business and our society shook, we rallied together in support of our shared mission. I will never forget it. For the rest of my life, it will be a source of immeasurable pride for me to say I was part of such an incredible team at Beacon Communications during this crisis, and to have performed at the level we did.
There are so many other people – far too many to possibly name here – that I’ve been fortunate to work with at my other professional stops, including the Gardner News, The Independent and the Newport Daily News. Many, I’m lucky to say, remain my friends. Almost all have been true professionals, people deeply committed to journalism despite the personal sacrifices our industry too often requires.
I’d be remiss not to mention the staff of our sister publications at Providence Media, who in recent months relocated to our now-shared offices in Warwick. It’s been great to get to know them, even just for a short while.
Now, for the buried lede.
This is my final week with the paper, and my last edition as editor. I’ll be moving on to a new position at the State House, working under Greg Paré in the Rhode Island Senate’s communications office.
I can’t begin to express how excited I am for what lies ahead in this new opportunity to serve our state.
I will miss journalism and the Herald enormously. But I know the paper will be in excellent hands under the stewardship of incoming editor Allie Lewis, along with John and the rest of the team here.
I’ll leave Allie to introduce herself, but she comes to the Herald with an excellent reputation and a strong commitment to community journalism. I am thrilled she will be taking the reins as the paper’s editor.
Cranston is, and will always be, a part of who I am. It’s been such an honor to tell its stories.
As a proud resident of this city, I’ll soon join the ranks of the Herald’s subscribers, supporting its mission and relying on its pages to teach me a little more each week about the place we call home.
I hope you’ll all be there with me, as the Herald is here for all of us.
Thank you, as always, for reading.
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