The last couple weeks of every calendar year are always a mixed bag around the DTN newsroom. The mood is part retrospective, as we run through our Top 10 stories for the past year, and part decompressing, as the holidays and the typically slower markets combine to allow some people to get time with families or get errands done. Any slack in pace, however, is always laced with the anxiousness of some last-minute shoe to drop from government circles, a large ag company or some other critical farm-related surprises.
That's how it works these days in the news cycle: Hold the bad news, or at least unexpected news, for a Friday afternoon, particularly one right ahead of a holiday, when there's little time for working journalists to catch sources for comments about said news.
One of the things our Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton and others are anxiously waiting for is the announcement of a secretary of Agriculture. As DTN Political Correspondent Jerry Hagstrom reports, this is one of the last remaining cabinet seats left to fill, and we're running over the average time a president-elect has chosen one.
We have our own somewhat sad, "surprise" news, and to keep with the tradition I've held it until late in the day to discuss.
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For more than 30 years, DTN customers and readers benefitted from the skills and the dedication of Cheri Zagurski, the past 10 or so while she was managing editor. For readers not up on the varying news office titles, the managing editor is typically the linchpin of the news effort. She or he is the person who makes the trains run on time and typically is responsible for getting the rail cars lined up in the right order to start with.
Cheri announced her retirement from DTN in November.
I've worked with my share of managing editors, and I've been blessed to share copy with some of the best in agriculture. Few could hold a red editing pen to Cheri. Her ability to tear through rambling news and feature copy and spit out clean, clear prose was only matched by her ability to keep the troops spirits up and to get the last ounce of effort out of her charges, and they were glad to do it.
Even more importantly, Cheri was extraordinarily loyal to you, our customers and readers. Cheri was never shy to challenge others in the DTN organization, regardless of where they sat on the chain of command, when she thought an action or idea would result in poorer service to DTN customers. Trust me, farmers have never had a greater ally, even if you never met her.
I appreciated those skills and dedication as a DTN reporter. I appreciated them even more as editor-in-chief. In fact, the first critical question I asked when offered the promotion was "Is Cheri staying on as managing editor?" As excited as I was with the opportunity, I'm not sure what I would have done if the answer had been no.
While we're sad to lose those talents and that dedication, the newsroom is excited for Cheri and her husband, Jeff, and their sons, and the new time they have together. We wish them all the best and expect reports from many happy fishing expeditions.
I'm sure Cheri joins me in wishing everyone a safe, fun and satisfying New Year.
Now, about that Ag secretary ...
Greg Horstmeier can be reached at email@example.com
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