You might recall a column of a few weeks ago in which I compared the job of a newspaper's city editor to the act of tying yourself to the mast in a storm at sea and taking the full brunt of the winds and rain.
If that analogy holds true (and, as a former city editor myself, it feels right), then this follows: If you're going to sign up for that job, it helps to know the seas on which you're sailing.
To that end, I'm delighted to announce that Cory Frye, a longtime employee at the Democrat-Herald and Gazette-Times, is the new city editor for the newspapers. Frye, 46, replaces Kim Jackson, who resigned earlier this year to take a job at the Albany Visitors Association. Most recently, Frye worked as the news editor for the papers, responsible for making story selections for the front page and determining where other stories — local, state, national and world — appear in the paper.
By contrast, the city editor in a newsroom is the person responsible for coordinating local coverage: City editors work closely with reporters and photographers to shape each day's local news reporting and are responsible for making sure each day's paper has what we call a centerpiece package — that is to say, a story that features a strong photograph that can lead the front page. It's a job that requires considerable planning skills — and, conversely, the ability to toss all those plans aside at a moment's notice when unexpected developments occur or when a story falls through, for any of a million reasons. In addition, the city editor often is the first contact between the public and the newsroom, and so it's a job that comes with plenty of interruptions and distractions.
To that end, it helps to have a good sense of the area that you're trying to serve, and Frye has that.
He was born in San Diego, but moved to the mid-valley when his parents moved to Scio, and then to Albany, in 1979 — part of what he calls a "slow migration" to Oregon by his father's side of the family. He's a 1990 graduate of West Albany High School and studied at Linn-Benton Community College.
Along the way, he worked at the Democrat-Herald, starting as a sportswriter but quickly adding other areas of coverage as well, including features and movie criticism. (He's long had a sharp feel for pop culture, including movies and music; check out his recent piece about Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood" from last week's E section or at our website.) He also served a stint in the Gazette-Times' newsroom, where he helped guide the newspaper's arts and entertainment coverage and worked to compile the weekly calendar of events, an important task for readers but one that is generally thankless.
Considering his love for pop culture, a time in Los Angeles probably was inevitable, and he moved there in 2000. While in Southern California, he worked for Rhino Records, where he supervised the editorial content and liner note direction for more than 100 CD releases. Among his projects for Rhino was a boxed set titled "Whatever: The '90s Pop & Culture Box." Do not get into a music trivia face-off with Frye. You will lose. (If you pull out the booklet that accompanies your two-disc "The Very Best of Eagles" set and turn to page 45, you will see this listing: "Editorial Supervision: Cory Frye." I can't speak for you, but I was impressed.)
But he was laid off from Rhino in 2007 and was homesick to boot, and so he returned to the mid-valley, where he eventually landed the news editor job. Since then, he's taken deep dives into mid-valley history that include writing a book, "Murder in Linn County, Oregon: The True Story of the Legendary Plainview Killings," about the 1922 incident in which Linn County Sheriff Charles Kendall was killed.
Frye said that the mid-valley has "always been home," and that knowledge of the area will serve him well as city editor.
It's a bit of a cliche, but it's true: You're never quite ready for being a city editor at a newsroom until you actually step into the role. But I'm confident that Frye is more than equal to the challenge, with his deep knowledge of the area and strong news sense honed by many nights working as the news editor. I'm looking forward to watching him thrive in this new role. (mm)