Whether documenting a tense ballgame, chasing down elusive sources or crafting flowing narratives, journalism is not just a job — it is a way of life.
Toledo Free Press writers Sarah Ottney, Brigitta Burks and Caitlin McGlade and Sports Editor Zach Davis know all about that. Ottney and Burks are being promoted to managing editor and news editor, respectively. Gina Fielding has been named Social Networking Editor. McGlade and Davis are leaving the state for new opportunities.
Ottney, 28, is an Oak Harbor native. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2006 with dual degrees in English and journalism. Ottney then moved to South Dakota for a reporting and copy editing job at the Aberdeen American News. For three years, Ottney wrote about a variety of topics, including outdoors, agriculture and features. She also designed news pages for print, including covers and sports.
She moved back to Northwest Ohio in 2009 to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks.
Since taking her special sections editor job with Toledo Free Press in 2011, Ottney has organized sections small and large, covering topics ranging from weddings to Mud Hens Opening Day, from dining guides to the military.
“I like the challenge of finding a new angle to sections we do every year. It really lets me be creative. And every week it’s something different so I never get bored,” Ottney said.
She said she loves compiling the 90-page-plus print monster that is the annual Mud Hens Opening Day issue.
“The enthusiasm is contagious,” Ottney said. “Everyone is really excited about baseball starting again and there are so many facets to the Mud Hens that people may not have thought about before. Everyone involved with the Mud Hens is really passionate about what they do. I’m not really a baseball fan myself, but they won me over.”
As Ottney continues at Toledo Free Press, she looks forward to documenting Toledo’s growth.
“I’m enjoying watching Toledo come back from the recession,” she said. “I moved back here right in the middle of it and worked for AmeriCorps so I saw Toledo and its problems at their worst firsthand. I was able to put faces on a lot of our most difficult issues and it’s been neat to see how that experience has translated to make me a better journalist.”
Michael S. Miller, Toledo Free Press editor in chief, said Ottney is already a valuable staff member and her promotion will provide more opportunities for her to practice her craft.
“Sarah writes compelling, clean copy and has a deft hand editing others’ contributions,” Miller said. “Her new leadership role here will have a dramatic impact on our news coverage and social networking plans.”
Burks, 25, comes to Toledo from the Cincinnati area. She graduated from Mount Notre Dame High School in 2006 and then attended Ohio University. After endless hours editing and writing at the student-run newspaper, The Post, Burks graduated from OU with a degree in journalism and specializations in history and women’s studies. She also interned at the Hamilton Journal News.
From there, she took a job with the American Bankruptcy Institute in Alexandria, Va., as the nonprofit’s communication/administrative assistant. She moved to Toledo about a year ago and landed a job with Toledo Free Press.
“My favorite part about being a journalist is the opportunity to help people in a way,” Burks said. “Whether you’re writing about a political figure and you’re educating the public and helping people make more informed decisions, or if you’re writing about charities — I’m really passionate about community-driven journalism.”
“Brigitta is an insightful reporter and talented editor,” Miller said. “Readers will see great strides in our reporting and the scope of our investigative projects.”
A graduate of Genoa High School, and an education major at the University of Toledo, Social Networking Editor Gina Fielding is CEO of digital marketing business Gabella Media and editor in chief of www.damngina.net.
She is a radio personality who serves as social media director for “Andrew Z in the Morning” on Star 105.5.
“Gina has dynamic ideas for our website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Issuu services,” Miller said. “As the industry evolves with technology, all media must not only keep up but lead the way, and Gina will help us with that mission. Our goal is be as accessible and interactive as possible.”
McGlade, 24, is leaving Toledo Free Press for an internship at Congressional Quarterly in Washington, D.C., where she will cover Congress.
“As a political science major, I’m interested in watching the political machine work,” McGlade said. “I’ve covered city and county government and now I’m interested in seeing how the federal government works. I’ve written stories about federal legislation, but I’ve never been to the place where they are making it happen.”
McGlade came to Toledo Free Press as an intern in 2009 and was hired as a staff writer in December after graduating from Ohio University, where she majored in journalism and political science.
McGlade covered city and county government, boards of elections, political campaigns, business, environment and art for Toledo Free Press.
“I’ve learned a lot at Toledo Free Press. I haven’t been able to cover everything because we are a small staff, but what I have been able to cover I have been able to devote time and attention to make the stories truly well-rounded, researched, in-depth and written in a way that I might not get to anywhere else,” McGlade said.
“Toledo not only has a compassionate community, but a growing arts scene and I think I’ll miss watching that develop.”
McGlade grew up in Dayton and graduated from Bowling Green High School in 2007. She also interned at The Columbus Dispatch, The Arizona Republic and The Athens (Ohio) Messenger and worked with Burks at OU’s student newspaper, The Post.
“I worked in Washington, D.C., and I am excited for the opportunities Caitlin is pursuing,” Miller said. “Her leadership and determination will be missed, but she will find great success in The District.”
Davis, 24, is leaving Toledo Free Press for a job at the Laredo Morning Times in Texas. He will join the newspaper’s sports writing staff.
Davis grew up in Heath, Ohio, and graduated from Heath High School. He graduated from the University of Toledo with a degree in communication with a concentration in journalism. Before coming to Toledo Free Press in 2011, Davis worked at FOX Sports Ohio and interned with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was also an active writer with UT’s student newspaper, The Independent Collegian, and was sports editor in 2010.
“My roots come from Toledo; this is where I’ve learned my skills. It’s been an exciting time in Toledo and I’m excited to see what else is out there,” Davis said. “I’ll miss the people here.”
“Zach lives sports, and Texas is fertile ground for sports journalism,” Miller said. “We wish him well and know he will thrive there.”
Tags: Brigitta Burks, Caitlin McGlade, Gina Fielding, Sarah Ottney, Toledo Free Press, Zach Davis