The Block Island Times gets a new editor...

Thu, 12/17/2020 - 5:45pm
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The Block Island Times is pleased to announce that Renée Meyer has been named the new editor of the paper. Meyer, who has been involved with The Times dating back to 1999, has always shared a passion for writing and featuring stories of the small community she calls home.

Publisher of The Times Michael Schroeder shared his thoughts on the acceptance of Meyer as the new Editor. Meyer will be replacing previous Editor Lars Trodson when he leaves for his new Executive Director position at the Block Island Chamber of Commerce on Monday, Jan. 4

“Renée has a long history with The Times, and as a part-time editor, has read just about every story in the paper for the past decade. Well before that, she worked on our special publications,” said Schroeder.

“She brings a wealth of knowledge of what’s happening in the areas that shape the island, and will be expanding her experience as editor. Along with solid reporting from Rosemary Connelli and all the great contributors that support us, we will continue to put out the paper our readers deserve,” added Schroeder.

The Times chatted with Meyer to gather some background on her interests and experience with writing and reporting, and her thoughts on moving forward with a new editorial leadership.

Q: Can you provide a brief biography?

A: I was born in upstate New York but spent my formative years growing up in a Boston suburb, so I usually say I’m from Massachusetts. I returned to New York for college, getting a liberal arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College, just outside “the city.” Five years later I went to graduate school, getting a M.S. in Public Accounting from Northeastern University.

I was working for a very large accounting firm in Manhattan when I came all by myself for a second visit to Block Island. I met a man. About a year, and several visits later, Peggy Manley, the late and beloved owner of the Beachead, said: “You know, Renee…” I moved here in 1992.

Q: When did you first become interested in a career in writing and editing?

A: I didn’t explicitly set out to have a career in journalism. Rather, I morphed into it. As with most people on Block Island, I’ve worn many hats over the years. I started at The Block Island Times in late 1999 when then owner and publisher Bruce Montgomery asked for some help with accounting. Back then, the paper had a column called Writer’s Block, and anyone could submit a piece. I wrote one on gardening with deer, and that started my writing, with great encouragement from Bruce, for which I will always be grateful. 

I took a hiatus from The Times from 2006 to 2013 when I began writing again. Then one day, Lars asked me to copy edit the weekly paper. I said “Yes” and then went home and read the entirety of “The Elements of Style” overnight.

Q: How did being named Editor of The Block Island Times come about?

A: I think it was just a natural progression. I became Editor of Special Editions in the spring of 2020, and when Lars resigned, Michael Schroeder called me just hours later. I’m delighted and honored that he did.

Q: What do you think the role of a newspaper is in a small community like Block Island?

A: Community journalism is more important than ever, although sadly, in many areas it has all but disappeared, with local outlets closing shop, and larger publications being swallowed up by large conglomerates. You really can’t expect a paper run out of Texas to cover local issues. So, we’re really “the boots on the ground,” and sometimes that trickles up. The Block Island Wind Farm is a great example of that. It started here but became a national story. 

And of course, we have a lot of part-time residents and frequent visitors who really, really want to keep up with what’s happening on the island.

Q: Are you interested in covering new ground or stories at the paper that haven’t been touched on before? What do you hope to bring forth to the paper as the new Editor?

A: The Block Island Times has become a well-honed paper over the years and we’ll continue to cover what’s going on just as always. But the island is always changing – new challenges, new endeavors. In the past few years, the big stories were the wind farm, then the acquisition of the Block Island Power Company, taking it from private to public ownership. This year the big news includes the reburial of the Orsted and National Grid electric transmission cables, and the (drum roll please) roll out of broadband, so we’ll have a lot of coverage of that. And of course, we have the ongoing challenges of Covid19 and preparing for the summer of 2021. Plus, you never know when a blizzard will come along.

As always, we will continue our partnerships with all the wonderful and hardworking organizations in the community, and welcome input from our readers. I look forward to working with them all. Here’s to 2021!

Q: We look forward to having you as the new Editor at The Block Island Times, Renée! Congratulations!

Starting Monday, Dec. 28 all emails concerning editorial content for The Block Island Times — story ideas, letters to the editor, press releases, queries and photos — should be sent to rmeyer@blockislandtimes.com.