Checking in with past managing editors at Northeast News

Michael Bushnell and Christine Adams purchased the Northeast News in July 1998. The paper has had a number of managing editors over the past two decades and we recently reached out to them to see where they are in their careers now. Our publication has been blessed to have such a wide array of talent and this is only a small glimpse into the efforts that have made this community paper possible each and every week. Emily Randall, Managing Editor for Northeast News from 2008-2011, was unable to respond by press deadline.

 

Brad Finch, 1998-2000

I was photo editor, history writer, and distribution manger for the News.

I was, (and still am,) an architectural photographer specializing in historic structures. I travel around the country documenting buildings for National Register of Historic Places nominations, historic tax credits, and Historic American Building Survey projects for historic preservation consultants, architects and developers.

Northeast News helped me hone my story-telling skills in writing and photography. Norm Mason helped me find THE shot that draws people in to read the story. Much of this was before the age of practical digital photography, so deadlines were challenging but exhilarating! I learned that “All the news that’s fit to print” actually means, “All the news that fits!”

I’m really proud of the work we did and the content we brought to my neighborhood while I was a part of the News. I was an amazing time!

Currently, I’m Owner / Sole Proprietor of f-stop.com architectural photography

 

Tracy Abeln, 2000-2008

The job was rewarding, if consuming: profiling residents, trying to solve problems, digging into the particulars of city codes, interviewing mayoral candidates—I consider my stint at Northeast News to be an extension of my liberal arts education. I learned this job on the job. And I remember each of the mistakes with acute accuracy and embarrassment, even almost 20 years later.

As copy editor with The National Catholic Reporter, I read all day long now. I am a reader’s advocate and a writer’s best friend.

During my time at the Northeast News, I was yelled at in Northeast High School for being in the halls between classes, mistaken for a student. I helped a couple move out an apartment that was, thanks to “slumlord” ownership, falling apart around them. I learned how nonprofits work. I met my future spouse at one of the many meetings at Old Northeast, Inc., I learned from the firefighters at Station 23 when they let me tour their new digs that there usually was a donkey to be seen from the back window. I saw how small businesses are a labor of love and the cement that keeps a community together. I got to be around police officers and not have a simultaneous panic attack. I saw how government really gets done. I absorbed so much Kansas City history that I might as well have lived here all my life. I was fortunate to meet and to learn from during the time Northeast opened so many doors to me.

I’m thrilled that Northeast News is still thriving after nearly a century. I got a lot of flat tires in that ’91 Camry in the course of going to City Hall, to the Sheffield steel works, the library and the parks. I’m sad that 12th Street Tire, my go-to fixers, is also gone. On my desk at work is the Mason jar of nails and screws I started collecting while reporting, and I take pride in my role as “flat-tire prevention advocate.” People ask me about it all the time.

 

Mike Ekey, 2008

I was filling some pretty big shoes following long-time Managing Editor Tracy Abeln, but was also fortunate to have Erica VanDee as my design editor and partner in the newsroom. We pushed the weekly printed product to include more photos, graphics and visual elements to really showcase the Northeast area.

I am currently the the assistant city manager at the City of Raymore, Mo. I serve our city manager (who is appointed by the City Council) and manage several departments that serve our residents. My division includes human resources, capital improvement projects, IT, buildings and grounds, parks and recreation communications/public relations, city-wide solid waste programs and strategic planning.

My wife Sarah and I live in Blue Springs with our 5-year-old daughter, Elliott.

The character and soul of a community is not going to be built in a meeting at City Hall. It takes dedicated residents and a community that feels supported by one another to build strong neighborhoods. This was apparent every day in Northeast and it is a lesson I have taken with me to City Hall. My goal is to run every program and train every employee to have the residents’ needs in mind—it is their community, not mine, to grow and foster.

Even as a city manager, I cannot stress how important your local newspaper is to keeping residents informed and City Hall on its toes. Support your local newspaper, buy an ad, secure a subscription, whatever it takes to show your appreciation to the work being done by journalists who live in your community.

 

Leslie Collins, 2011-2015

I went to college in Olathe, but I had never heard of the Historic Northeast. It is a melting pot of cultures and I loved getting the inside look through Northeast News. Through the newspaper, I attended cultural events and listened to stories of resilience and tenacity from refugee business owners. It was inspiring and put life into perspective.

Now, I am a reporter at the Kansas City Business Journal and now cover a wider swatch of Kansas City and the metro. Some of my beats include retail, restaurants, tech and entrepreneurs.
Northeast News gave me the freedom to cover a variety of beats and hone both my general reporting and hard news skills. One of my hard news series helped land me the job at the Kansas City Business Journal. Through Michael Bushnell, I also learned how to ask the tough questions and keep leaders accountable.

The Northeast is an awesome area of Kansas City that’s filled with such interesting people and delicious restaurants. I hope you continue to find ways to enjoy it and don’t shy from trying out a new local restaurant or retailer. As for Northeast News, it’s a vital resource for the area – not only shedding light on key issues the area faces but also on all of the great things happening. Please don’t take community journalism for granted. Continue to support it.

 

Joe Jarosz, 2015-2016

I couldn’t ignore the crime that happened in the Northeast, but I quickly made a conscious decision not to focus on it. That sounds hard, but through all the hard work the neighborhoods put in to making the Northeast the best possible version of itself, it wasn’t. The representatives and residents of Indian Mound, Lykins, Pendleton Heights, and Scarritt couldn’t have been more proud of their backyard, and that’s what I wanted to highlight. Oh, and then there was that damn streetcar. I covered as much of it as possible, only to leave right before it opened. Whenever I come back to visit, that’s the first thing I’m doing.

My family and I are enjoying California and all of its outdoor adventures. My role as the executive producer of digital for ABC10 in Sacramento, Calif. is now managing the research team, while also keeping the website and app up-to-date, assisting with daily editorial decisions and planning long-term projects.

My time at the Northeast News helped me trust my decision-making on editorial pieces. It also made me a better editor, which is key in my role now. Above all, it helped remind me that community news is what people care about the most. What’s happening where I live? That question sometimes gets lost in the news today, but it’s an important one that still needs to be answered every day.

Don’t let Kansas City forget about you. Shout all the progress you’ve made and let it be known how great the Northeast is.

 

Paul Thompson, 2016-2018

I spent about two and a half years as the managing editor, accruing valuable experience covering a vibrant community where there was no shortage of opportunities to cut my teeth. I spent a lot of time covering the happenings at City Hall and hopefully kept Historic Northeast residents apprised about the maneuvers of Kansas City’s political power brokers. I was proud to start the publication’s podcast, the Northeast Newscast, and am gratified to see it going strong.

I moved down to Austin, Texas in October 2018 and have been covering the business community down here for the past nine months as the assistant managing editor at the Austin Business Journal. Focus points include startup businesses, legal reporting and venture capital.

Quite frankly, I wouldn’t be here without my time at the Northeast News. Publisher Michael Bushnell empowered me to write the stories I felt were important, and that allowed me to continue developing the sort of reporter’s intuition that only experience can provide.

I always valued my time at the Northeast News, and I can only hope you found value in my reporting. Good luck to the Historic Northeast community in the future!

 

 

 

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