Why did you choose journalism as a career?
I’m naturally curious and love asking questions. Journalism gives me an excuse to be nosey!
As a freelance writer, I have 20-plus years’ experience with mostly local and regional papers. One of the things I love about this type of journalism is highlighting the lives and accomplishments of people in the community.
What was one of your most memorable experiences?
I was assigned to write a story about a very elderly man based upon some interesting historical thing he had done. I can’t even remember what it was now. When I got there to interview him, it turned out he hadn’t done the thing at all!
I had to really dig and get creative to make a story, but I did. When the story ran, he sent me flowers and a thank you note. It made me so happy to think what a positive impact the story had for him.
How long have you lived in Orinda?
My husband Jeff and I have been here a little over five years. When we moved, our daughter Savannah was in the process of relocating to London and our son Carson was starting college at the University of Colorado Boulder, so we were empty nesters.
We purchased a home in Wilder and as I became acquainted with our new town, I fell in love with it. I volunteered as a driver for The Orinda Association’s Seniors Around Town program. It’s so enjoyable getting to know Orinda’s seniors when driving them to various appointments. There are so many interesting people living here.
I also found the group of people at the OA so nice and welcoming. They always make me feel good when I walk into the office.
How did you end up becoming the new executive editor of The Orinda News?
It was a perfect confluence of events!
When we moved here, I took a break from working to get the new house together and to travel with Jeff. I thought it would be a brief hiatus, but then COVID hit, and it turned out to be a much longer break than I anticipated. I took on a few freelance assignments and kept my skills up by writing and publishing the Wilder newsletter.
As we started to come out of COVID, I thought about what type of job I wanted. I knew being more than a freelance writer was in my future, plus I have marketing and sales experience to implement and use the business side of my brain. And, most importantly, I enjoy working with a team.
I wasn’t sure how to achieve my goals, so I started by pitching some story ideas to The Orinda News’ long-time Executive Editor Sally Hogarty. We knew each other from the OA and she was familiar with my writing.
We met for coffee and Sally listened to my ideas. Then she pitched one of her own, and I was floored. She told me she’d be retiring at the end of the year and asked if I would be interested in applying for her position.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine such a proposal, but the more I thought about it, I realized it was a perfect fit.
Interviewing with a nine-person panel, which included OA board members, current Orinda News writers and a former Orinda News editor, was a bit intimidating. I must have done okay since they offered me the job the next day.
What are some of the things you’d like to do in your new position?
Sally stressed how she felt the paper needed someone with new energy and ideas and I hope I have lots of both.
I have those first story ideas I pitched and I hope to involve more interns with the newspaper. It’s a great way to turn young people on to journalism. I also have several ideas for our ad team that I think will benefit the community and the newspaper.
I’m very much looking forward to diving in and seeing where 2023 takes us.
How has your transition to executive editor been?
Luckily, I was able to accept the position several months before the job began. Sally has been doing the job for almost 30 years, and she knows the newspaper and the community inside and out. I needed those months to “shadow” her.
I felt a little overwhelmed at first, but then Sally put together a casual party so I could meet the writers. Everyone was so much fun and dedicated to the community and the newspaper. They are all driven by passion and pride in their work, and they get amazing results on a very small budget.
Editor-in-Chief Charleen “Charlie” Earley and I are working closely together on stories, but I am responsible for finances and our ad team. I get to use both my creative and business skills, which was my dream when first starting this journey.
Sally Hogarty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.