Longtime journalist Robert Meyerowitz, a veteran of covering civil wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador and the invasion of Panama, has joined The Durango Herald as editorial page editor.
“I wanted to work in journalism, but I had no idea how to do it,” Meyerowitz said about his first job in the industry as a reporter with WXXI, a national public radio station in Rochester, New York.
His time at the station led to a job with Associated Press Radio covering Central America.
Meyerowitz came to journalism after attending Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson in upstate New York, where he studied languages and literature.
“It’s a prestigious liberal arts and fine arts school, but that doesn’t really prepare you for anything, but really nothing else does either, other than being in it,” he said.
As editorial page editor, Meyerowitz said he’s eager to bring thoughtful discussion to issues of local and regional importance, and he’s excited to be working in community journalism, where an invested public holds journalists to account.
Serving as a foreign correspondent, Meyerowitz said, creates a certain distance between reporters and the public that lessens a journalist’s accountability, a situation not possible for local journalists.
“You can make broad generalizations as a foreign correspondent, and no one is going to call you on it, but if you’re covering the local wastewater plant, and you don’t get it right, you’re going to hear about it,” he said.
Meyerowitz said he is interested in going beyond the divisive rhetoric now common in public political debates in a search for more thoughtful analysis. For instance, instead of decrying the extreme politics of Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump, he said, journalists should be examining why their campaigns found resonance with the public.
“We are very pleased to bring such a high level of journalism and professionalism to our company,” said Doug Bennett, CEO of Ballantine Communications Inc., parent company of the Herald. “Robert brings an expertise we believe will benefit our entire news and editorial operation. Our newspaper continues to evolve as a top-notch news organization ready to tackle all forms and formats media takes on today.”
Meyerowitz, a fluent Spanish speaker, has also spent time covering Cuba. He was arrested in 1989 by the Cuban government while reporting on a 10-year anniversary story about the Mariel boat lift.
The conversion from radio to print journalism came for Meyerowitz when he “couldn’t face another plane ride.”
He also said in a certain sense, radio journalism “sort of felt like cheating,” and he wanted to see his reporting converted to the print word, which in some way is seen as more substantive.
He first worked in print journalism as a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News from 1994 to 1997. He also worked as editor of the Anchorage Press, the state’s biggest weekly, and he taught for a year at University of Alaska Fairbanks as the Snedden Chair of Journalism, serving as a visiting faculty member.
He came to the Herald after serving as managing editor of The Nerve, in Columbia, South Carolina, which covered state politics and government.