Change is inevitable -- even with your local newspaper

·9 min read

Aug. 29—The old adage "there is nothing permanent except change" is true. Loyal readers of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle know that, and you have walked along with us through the years as we have adapted to an ever-changing media landscape.

I've been here for almost 23 years of that evolution, and I've presided over the past five-and-a-half as the WTE's managing editor. During that time, we've added more color and dynamic design as a new press went online in 2008, and we've increased our digital presence with new e-Edition formats, a smartphone app and an umbrella website at WyomingNews.com that offers expanded content from all of the Adams Publishing Group properties in the state (if you have not yet registered, please do so and take advantage of our daily newsletters, alerts, e-Edition, updates throughout the day and the ability to manage your account online).

We even weathered an ongoing global pandemic by adjusting the placement of some of our content and adding a full page of puzzles to help readers pass the time while they were cooped up a home, doing their part to control the spread of COVID-19.

And, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), I've seen dozens of skilled and passionate journalists exit our newsroom after spending what felt like an all-too-short amount of time sharing their talents with us.

This week, it's time for the next step in that evolution. And, as with any change, it's bound to be met with some resistance. But we hope you will be patient with us as we adapt yet again to changing times and work to continue providing the best possible coverage of Laramie County and the rest of Wyoming.

Beginning Wednesday, we will start using the page that has been dedicated to extra puzzles for the past 17 months to offer you more news from across Wyoming. Thanks to our outstanding partnership with the Wyoming News Exchange, we are blessed to have access to a variety of news stories, features and briefs from news outlets across the state. These drop into our email inboxes six days a week, and while we try to run as many as possible, there are many more that just haven't been making it into print due to a lack of space.

Our mission is to focus on more and better local original content, so, in order to achieve that objective, we are adapting our comics, puzzles and amusements lineup to a format that takes less of our staff's time. This means Jumble, Wonderword, Bridge and celebrity news/birthdays will be gone, replaced by three new puzzles: Word Game, KenKen and 7 Little Words. We will still offer daily crossword and sudoku puzzles, as well as Dear Abby and your horoscope. Today in History will continue, as well, but will move to a new location, and we will continue to offer the popular Los Angeles Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle each week in the ToDo section.

The change will result in more comics — a total of 20 each day, instead of the current 13. Seven will stay the same, and 13 will be new to WTE readers, but we will say goodbye to Breaking Cat News, Mutts, Rhymes with Orange, Rubes, Speed Bump and Wizard of Id. (Personally, although I will miss Rhymes with Orange, I think this is the strongest comics lineup we have offered during my time here.)

Again, we realize these changes will take some getting used to, but trust me when I say a lot of thought has gone into them, and we are making them for the overall good of our news product, both now and in the future.

As mentioned earlier, it's never fun to lose talented journalists, but, unfortunately, that has happened quite a bit recently. The good news is most of them have moved on to bigger papers or better opportunities closer to their families, which is the best I can hope for.

But while I'm sad to have said goodbye to Michael Cummo, Niki Kottmann, Tom Coulter, Margaret Austin and Kathryn Palmer in recent months, I'm excited by the new energy and ideas coming into our newsroom along with the folks who are replacing them. Today, I have the pleasure of introducing three of them to you.

Born and raised in Las Vegas, and a graduate from University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, Rhianna Gelhart is our new staff photographer and videographer. Her photo career began as a student contributor to the local news station in Eugene while she was attending UO. She then became the Charles Snowden Intern for the 2016 year, earning the photo intern position for the Register-Guard newspaper through the Snowden program, which is open to all Oregon college students. During her time there, she also placed in the Sports Action category for the College Photographer of the Year competition, a worldwide competition open to all eligible college students.

Rhianna freelanced for the Register-Guard after finishing the Snowden internship and then moved to Gillette, Wyoming, to work as a staff photographer for two years. She moved to Cheyenne in February 2020 and began freelancing for the WTE while also working as the assistant volleyball coach at Laramie County Community College. "And now I am here, and so very thankful, grateful, blessed and happy to be working for a community newspaper with such wonderful staff and the ability to do what I love so very much!" she said.

Rhianna can be reached by email at rgelhart@wyomingnews.com or by cellphone at 307-633-3136. She always welcomes feature and news photo suggestions, so please don't hesitate to reach out to her.

Hannah Black has worked as the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's criminal justice reporter since late October 2020. She grew up in Independence, Missouri, a suburb just outside Kansas City. Because of her love of writing, she decided to study print and digital news at the Missouri School of Journalism, and she minored in French. During her time at Mizzou, she served in several roles at the Columbia Missourian — a community newspaper that serves as a training ground for student journalists — as a public safety and health reporter, a features reporter, an assistant city editor and a copy editor. She also worked as a summer reporting intern at the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota, and she spent a semester in Brussels, Belgium, working for a policy news website in the capitol of the European Union.

After graduating from college in 2018, Hannah was hired as a reporter for the Woodbury Bulletin, a weekly newspaper in the suburbs of St. Paul, Minnesota. Though hired as a city government reporter, she covered it all: city council, law enforcement, the courts, business, the environment and the occasional "good news" story. She was laid off in May 2020, and the Bulletin was shut down — a victim of COVID-related cuts by the paper's parent company. Throughout the summer of 2020, she freelanced for the Minnesota Reformer, a nonprofit, online-only news site based in St. Paul. She covered statewide policy, as well as the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Wanting to be part of a news staff again, Hannah applied for and was hired in October by the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, starting a week and a half before Election Day. Since then, she's covered countless cases in Laramie County courts, the activities of local law enforcement and public safety agencies, and ongoing investigations by the Wyoming State Bar into Laramie County's district attorney, as well as local updates about COVID-19 and other stories from Wyoming's capital city.

Hannah can be reached at hblack@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3128, and you can find her on Twitter at @hannahcblack.

Jasmine Hall started as the new education reporter at the Wyoming Tribune Eagle earlier this month. She graduated from the School of Journalism at Michigan State University in May, with a minor in media photography. Throughout college, she worked for local outlets in Michigan like Spartan Newsroom, Capital News Service and The State News — focusing on data-driven, local government and community stories. Outside of reporting, she interned abroad in Berlin and utilized both her German-speaking skills, and marketing background to provide public relations support for artists, musicians and local companies in the city.

She has lived all across the United States and spent a few years in Germany, but it's the Appalachian mountains in southwest Virginia that she calls home. Jasmine moved to Wyoming in hopes of experiencing the great Western skies, which is easy to embark on in cowboy country, like Cheyenne. When she isn't at her desk writing, you can find her hiking, camping under the stars, swimming in rivers and reading in nooks.

The outdoors drew her to Wyoming, but it isn't the reason she has a hankering to stay. She is passionate about building connections, putting down deep roots and giving an honest voice to those in the community. Even as a child, she said, she knew that pen and paper would lead her down the right career path. Now, as she starts hers in Cheyenne, she is ready to write, inform and connect with readers on the education beat.

Jasmine can be reached at jhall@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3167. Follow her on Twitter @jasminerhphotos and on Instagram @jhrose25.

If you see any of these folks out and about, covering our communities, please welcome them and tell them you appreciate their work on your behalf.

We're close to being able to announce more new faces and bylines to you, our loyal readers, as we once again build back the best news team in the region.

Thank you for your patience as we continue to evolve our news products, and, if you have feedback or suggestions, please email them to me at bmartin@wyomingnews.com. We appreciate your continued support of local journalism, our advertising services and all of the ways the Wyoming Tribune Eagle has played a role in the lives of Laramie County residents for more than 150 years.

Be well.

Brian Martin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's managing editor. He can be reached by email at bmartin@wyomingnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @briankmartin.