Staff profile: Meet the Beacon Journal’s Michael Shearer

·5 min read

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Position: Editor of the Akron Beacon Journal/BeaconJournal.com; regional editor of the USA TODAY Network in northern Ohio. I joined the Beacon Journal in March 2019.

Why I became a journalist

I've always been interested in the news and watched the evening local and national news with my parents quite often. We also had multiple newspapers delivered to our house, although I was primarily interested in the sports section when I was younger. I knew enough about the news to always do quite well on a current events game my middle school social studies teacher played with students on Fridays. That sparked a greater interest in the news, and I joined my high school newspaper staff and became a journalism major at Ohio University. That's where I really learned about the news business, what it takes to find real stories and the critical role journalists play in our democracy.

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What I like best about my job

Every day is different. That's also one of the more challenging aspects of journalism as we never know what story will become part of our day or night. While there's some routine to what we do, it's exciting to encounter fresh topics, new people and interesting stories. There are days where I can't believe it's already 6 p.m.

A story I worked on that has had a lasting impact on me

There are so many stories, it's hard to answer this. But I took pride in my editor role in Newark, Ohio, and our coverage that helped the community comprehend an opportunity to rebuild every school with the help of state funding. Every time I visit my son who lives there, I am glad to see modern schools giving students a better place to pursue their education. Local journalists are at their best when they're helping improve communities by identifying problems and possible solutions.

What's the biggest challenge I face?

Protecting and improving local journalism. The world has changed whether any of us like it or not. The newspaper business must continue to quickly pivot to ensure we are serving readers on the platforms they choose. Thus, the only constant in my role is change, which is understandably difficult for readers and our team to understand at times. It's particularly frustrating for older readers who simply want a good newspaper in their hands the first thing every morning. But we live in a world where digital cameras disrupted use of film cameras only to be largely replaced by smartphone cameras in just a few years.

What I like to do when I’m not working

Spending time with my wife, traveling with family or watching sports. I've attended baseball games in 24 of the 30 MLB cities. I've taken up running during the pandemic, which is I how I start most days. My wife and I also enjoy hikes through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Summit County Metro Parks. I particularly enjoy playing golf and trying new courses throughout Northeast Ohio. I root for the Buckeyes, Blue Jackets, Reds and, sorry, Cleveland fans, the Steelers. I grew up in Columbus in the '70s when the Reds and Steelers were pretty good.

Favorite event or Akron-area tradition

Well, this is hard to answer as two of my three years here have been during the pandemic. I had a lot of fun at the Akron Rotary Club's Chili Open right before COVID arrived in 2020. Hopefully, this great event raising money for the Akron Rotary Camp will happen again this year on Feb. 5 at Hale Farm & Village. I also enjoyed attending a few RubberDucks games at beautiful Canal Park. I'm hoping for a more normal 2022.

Why journalism matters

I know the Beacon Journal is not what it used to be, but we've added local reporters in recent years and our staff is working hard to serve this community. I can't imagine towns anywhere, especially Akron, without local journalists working to hold public officials accountable, share important information and tell great stories. Without journalism, it's much easier for corruption to fester and the public to be shut out of important conversations. Accountability is critical to making our democracy work. That's why we need support through paid subscriptions. Anyone expects to be paid for their work in any business. Journalists are no different.

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This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Staff profile: Meet the Beacon Journal’s Michael Shearer

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