DFMies: Harry Saltzgaver is Journalist of the Year for non-daily newsrooms

Harry Saltzgaver, editor of the Gazette newspapers in Long Beach, Calif., won the DFMie as Journalist of the Year in non-daily newsrooms.

The nomination detailed Saltzgaver’s leadership of the Gazettes:

For 22 years, Harry Saltzgaver has tirelessly led the weekly Gazette newspapers. This year, the Gazettes faced their biggest challenge ever with the Orange County Register’s launch of the Long Beach Register.

Although it might be argued the Gazettes have operated in the shadow of Long Beach’s larger daily, the Press-Telegram, it would be unwise to make such an argument in Harry’s presence.

Saltzgaver has never considered, and has never allowed his small but high-performing staff to consider, the Gazettes as a small weekly newspaper. Rather, he considers the Gazettes to be THE community newspaper of Long Beach.

And it is a responsibility he takes extraordinarily seriously.

He maintains a competitive zeal with the Press-Telegram, a sister publication within the Los Angeles News Group, that has made his staff better, and more importantly, delivered better journalism to his readers in Long Beach. That competition intensified in 2013 with the Orange County Register’s launch of the Long Beach Register.

Saltzgaver leads from the front. While guiding a young staff, he continues to write extensively each week, including a very-popular column, as he edits all three Gazette editions. His ability to provide insight to readers on often intricate and complex stories from city hall has become his trademark.

Impressively, Saltzgaver has transformed the Gazettes into a Digital First operation while maintaining the excellence of the print products. In 2013, the Gazettes launched a new web site design, and the site is updated daily with fresh content and breaking news. Harry’s Rant every Monday has become a popular opinion video where Harry rants about a topic or issue in Long Beach and engages with readers for their thoughts. He insists his staff adopt the modern tools of today’s digital first journalist. Indeed, the most-read story on the Press-Telegram’s website in 2013 was a story picked up from the Gazette.

Not surprisingly, Saltzgaver is usually the first to arrive in the office and the last to leave.

Saltzgaver displayed steely and calm resolve in the face of the Register’s challenge, viewing it as an opportunity to hit the reset button on everything the Gazettes do to ensure it was as good as it could be. To date, the Register has made absolutely no inroads into the Gazettes reader or advertiser base. And the Gazettes are as good as they’ve ever been.

A Storify submitted with the nomination included links to some of Saltzgaver’s work.

Judges’ comments:

The judges choose Harry Saltzgaver as non-daily journalist of the year for his tireless leadership of the weekly Gazette newspapers during a year of tremendous challenge, for his embrace of digital-first reporting and storytelling, and for his spirit of community engagement both on and off the job.

As one of four Journalist of the Year winners, Saltzgaver went into a second round of judging with new judges to select the Digital First Media Journalist of the Year. The winner of that award will be announced April 23 at the DFMies program in St. Paul, Minn.

This is one of five DFMies for the Los Angeles News Group.

About Harry Saltzgaver

 

Harry Saltzgaver

Harry Saltzgaver

Saltzgaver has been a journalist for 35 years, and has been the executive editor at Gazette Newspapers for 22 of those years, overseeing three print editions and a robust website. He writes a number of stories each week as well as the editorial and a personal column, and his weekly video rants have become a minor sensation.

He has a passion for the community, serving on numerous nonprofit and public boards. He currently is a president of the Long Beach Water Commission, chair of the board for Goodwill SOLAC and a Long Beach Grand Prix Foundation trustee, among other community activities.

He has published two books, Passionately Positive, The Beverly O’Neill Story in 2010, and 20 Years Of Salt (In A 10-Pound Bag), a compilation of his best A Pinch Of Salt columns, in 2013. He lives in north Long Beach with his wife, Maria, and two big dogs.

Other finalists

Other finalists for Journalist of the Year in non-daily newsrooms were:

  • Andy Stettler, executive editor of Main Line Media News weekly group in the Philadelphia area, whose achievements during the year included leading development of a Guide to the Main Line iPhone app.
  • Meghan Ross, a reporter for Montgomery Media, whose varied contributions during the year included a “Five Things You Didn’t Know About …” digital story format.

Megan Quinn of the Broomfield Enterprise was the 2013 Journalist of the Year for non-dailies.

Steve Buttry

By Steve Buttry

Steve Buttry is Digital Transformation Editor for Digital First Media. He oversees our efforts to transform newsroom operations and culture to more effectively pursue our digital goals. His duties include responsibility for social media and community engagement. He has visited most DFM newsrooms personally, leading workshops and coaching editors and other journalists in following the Digital First approach.

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