'We Need To Be Here,' Says The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's New Editor
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram got its first new editor in nearly two decades this week. Lauren Gustus comes from Fort Collins, Colorado, where she also fought to pass legislation improving that state's open records laws.
The 36-year-old will be in charge of a newsroom that's seen a number of cuts over the last five years.
"I'm no stranger to cuts," Gustus said. "I think I started in the business when they were the most severe [in 2006-2009] in some really tough markets. And I'm still here."
Gustus became the top editor at The Coloradoan in 2014. Prior to that, she spent seven years as an editor for the Reno Gazette-Journal in Nevada and at papers in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.
...on what she would like to change at the Star-Telegram:
“We need to understand our readers. We need to be flexible and nimble enough to answer their questions, and I think that's where my approach will shape what the Star-Telegram is going to do.
"I think the local newspaper can continue to be the paper of record for a community. What I don't think the local newspaper can do is think you need to be the paper of record for the state or the country. And so that's where I think we can find some opportunity to double down on local news.
"Now, having said that, we did a lot of things just because we've always done them. I think it's important we don't continue to go down that road, because if we do, we won't be here five, 10 years on down the road. And I think we need to be here.”
...on diversifying sports coverage:
"News media puts out diversity data every year, and overwhelmingly, we perform poorly. And I think both in our coverage and our composition, we have opportunities to get better. It starts with recruiting and relationships. And I'm confident there are good folks out there."
...on whether her work fighting Colorado's open records laws crossed a line:
"I think journalists hold some universal values, and among them is the right to a free and open press, transparency. These are things that would be hard to argue against as a journalist. Those are values that I'm very comfortable owning. That doesn't mean that we won't be critical of organizations that aren't doing right by those values, but it does enable us to say, 'Here's a hill, we're going to stand on it, and we're going to own our responsibility to this value.' For me, that was the open records work in Colorado."
Lauren Gustus is the new executive editor of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.