The Park Record’s new editor keen to the responsibility of helming a community newspaper
Robert Meyerowitz describes journalism as a service
Robert Meyerowitz remembers his days as a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press Radio and National Public Radio when he would report about wars and conflicts from Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Cuba and Israel.
“It became a portal to adventure for me,” he said. “I was so young and dumb, and I happily go off to the next war and the next war and thought it was pretty cool. I never worried about my own safety.”
These days, Meyerowitz has other priorities like Charlie, his 11-year-old border collie, and his new position as editor of The Park Record, one of the oldest published newspapers west of the Mississippi River.
“That’s good, because there’s a legacy, but on the other hand I can’t screw it up,” he said. “And the way to make sure you don’t screw it up is to make sure it keeps doing what it has been doing and see that it continues to grow.”
By growth Meyerowitz doesn’t mean in the size of the staff, at least not immediately.
“I mean in terms of areas of coverage, the depth of coverage and perfecting what the paper already does,” he said.
Meyerowitz comes to Park City off of his most recent stint as an editor for Ballantine Communications, where he edited opinion pages for The Durango Herald and The Journal in Cortez, both in Colorado.
He also brings with him a string of qualifications that include editor positions at The Nerve in South Carolina, The Independent in Colorado Springs, The Missoula Independent in Montana and The Anchorage Press in Alaska.
Throughout his career, Meyerowitz has received awards and accolades from the Colorado Press Association, The Society of Professional Journalists, Best of the West, National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the Association of Alternative Newsmedia.
Meyerowitz dipped his pen into the ink while attending Bard College, where he studied languages and literature.
“The school was on the Hudson River in New York and everybody in my college was into fine arts like photography, filmmaking, painting,” he said. “You get exposed to a lot of high-end art stuff if you want it. It was a great education.”
Meyerowitz’s writing instructor was award-winning author Toni Morrison, the recipient of both the Nobel Prize for Literature and Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
“I had originally been interested in photography and painting, but I was way more interested in writing,” he said. “Journalism, when I was younger, forced you to publish whether you are ready or not. And that’s what I needed back then, because I wasn’t going to stay at home and publish a novel in two years. I just wanted to write.”
After cutting his teeth covering wars in Central America and the Middle East, Meyerowitz returned stateside and took up a job as editor at the Anchorage Press in Alaska.
“I was tired of being abroad, but I didn’t want to go back to some same old job in New York,” he said. “I wanted to be in the U.S. doing another adventure. So I settled in Alaska.”
Although he found himself in a natural paradise, Meyerowitz struggled with his impulse to cover another war.
He remembers the 1994 Rwanda massacre, where armed Hutu militias killed members of the Tutsi ethnic group.
“I was in Alaska and had this dumb idea that it had to be me covering it,” he said. “It took years before I stopped wishing I was in two places at once. I now have great empathy and sympathy for the people who are living in those conditions, but I don’t feel the need to be there, which is really healthy.”
A few months ago, Meyerowitz had seen a post advertising The Park Record editor position and applied. Three weeks ago, Meyerowitz took a call from The Park Record’s retiring publisher, Andy Bernhard.
“I was in the middle of interviewing for other things, but this was way more appealing to me, because of the place and the paper,” he said.
What attracted Meyerowitz the most was that Park City is located in the West.
“Park City is a mountain town with a western mountain vibe, and I’ve been living in Durango, Colorado, and I loved Durango,” he said. “I’ve lived in other places in the West — Alaska, Montana and elsewhere in Colorado. So, staying in the West appealed to me. Plus, Charlie is a dog that loves being outside in the mountains as much as I do.”
During his interview process, Meyerowitz spoke with former Park Record Editor Bubba Brown, who left in the spring.
“We spent a couple of hours talking, and that did it for me,” Meyerowitz said. “He was so eager to help me, because obviously I was going to need help, but he also said that he loves the staff and they are still his friends. That said a lot about the paper.”
Meyerowitz, who had never been to Park City, realizes he is an outsider.
“I know that I have to prove myself,” he said. “I have to earn people’s confidence and trust, and I’m up for that part. Now, that doesn’t mean I’ll succeed. There’s some uncertainty, and probably some risk, in everything that’s worth doing. But this isn’t the least-informed choice I’ve ever made. And I feel good about it.”
Meyerowitz also doesn’t plan on making any immediate or major changes at The Park Record.
“My plan was and is to come here, learn how (reporters) do things and what (they’re) doing,” he said. “I need to understand workflow, coverage areas and how that changed in the past five months. I want to absorb that and get into the flow and spend months in that before proposing any changes or adding or taking away anything.”
If Meyerowitz does decide to make a change, he will do it with care.
“As an editor, I have made some big changes at other papers, but my preferred way of operating is to make small, incremental changes,” he said. “Who the editor is shouldn’t be a big factor. Things will grow and evolve organically, and my job will be to influence the direction.”
In the meantime, Meyerowitz is happy to see how The Park Record works.
“We’re focusing on what’s important to the lives of the people who are living in this place,” he said. “That’s what we use as criteria. There’s a service component to journalism. I believe that we are here to serve readers, and we try to anticipate their needs, their wants and curiosities. There is some love for the paper in this community. I think people have a positive feeling for the paper and that was earned by others. It’s something I have to safeguard.”
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