Fresh tracks

A rural scene along Wisconsin Highway 54, between Black River Falls and Wisconsin Dells, Dec. 24, 2013.

Snow-covered trees line Wisconsin Highway 54, between Black River Falls and Wisconsin Rapids, on Dec. 24, 2013.

The first day of the calendar year reminds me of waking up to freshly fallen snow in my native Wisconsin. Nothing but a blanket of white covers the ground from the doorstep to the horizon. The newness lets me imagine where my fresh tracks might lead.

That’s also how I view the future of journalism on this first day of 2014. The news industry that shaped me as a professional has changed dramatically, and continues to shift toward digitization. I have studied, watched, experimented with and welcomed new forms of storytelling, and am excited about what journalistic frontiers may be discovered in the new year. It’s a future that belongs to innovators who live on the edge of technology and understand how to tell compelling stories in ways that fit the lifestyles and news consumption habits of today’s consumers. And while journalists must promote their work more heavily through social media and other marketing tools, journalistic integrity must remain at the core.

My optimism is shaped in part by my heritage. I often imagine what life must have been like for my Ho-Chunk ancestors who were removed from their homelands and forced to live in a manner radically different than what they had known. They retained their core values and traditions while adapting to their new reality. They emerged a changed people, stronger, wiser and determined to succeed. Compared to my tribe’s historic transformation, the disruption of the print news industry is merely a detour in the road.

Like those Ho-Chunks in generations past, I choose to be an innovator. I am looking for creative ways to share meaningful content about diverse people and communities that often get ignored throughout the media landscape. As a longtime journalist, I have covered politics, religion, race relations, education, the environment and a variety of beats. I have been an editor and have led newsrooms and organizations. I love journalism and want to be a part of its evolution into the digital age, or whatever age it’s called in 2014.

On this first day of the new year, I’m ready to make fresh tracks.

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