2.03.2011

iPad 'Daily' taps Vermont native as news editor

Like a lot of "mid-career" newspaper journalists Patrick Garrity had to make a choice. He started as an entry level sports guy and worked his way up until he was ... true story ... the associate editor for local content & public service at the Burlington (VT) Free Press. But the world he knew shape-shifted before his eyes and the native Vermonter (Northfield High School Class of '86 and UVM Class of '90) walked away from 12-hour days, a shrinking newsroom and occasional shifts on the copy desk to cover for co-workers who were forced to take week-long unpaid furloughs.

After leaving Burlington in autumn of 2010, he's done OK for himself. He's landed a gig as a news editor for the much hyped "The Daily," the world's first iPad-only news app that was launched Feb. 2 by News Corporation. We caught up with him in the middle of busy, busy week, by email, of course.

WO: You left Vermont, where you boarded, ran, fished (a little), you backpacked, and now you're on to bigger and better things in NYC. You still getting out down there and what are you doing?

PG: Central Park is my outdoors oasis, and fortunately I live only about five blocks from it. Frederick Law Olmsted is my hero. The place is a jewel, and I try to get out for a run there when I can. There's no doubt that I've had to put a lot of the things I love to do in Vermont on hold, and that's been hard. I know I'll appreciate them that much more when I go home.

WO: Tell me what's it like to be part of something new, something truly groundbreaking in the media world ?

PG: It's been exciting, inspiring and terrifying all at once. As a lifelong newspaperman, the decline of the industry has been difficult to endure -- and the constant predictions of newspapers' demise grew quite tiresome. To be involved with this sort of innovation and be part of the "future" of newspapers, rather than their long, slow death has been pretty cool. The iPad really does offer new ways to tell stories without compromising good journalism, and we're still learning what this thing can do.

WO: Knowing a)your interests and b)your new job is there a chance the two shall meet? I guess the question is will The Daily pay much attention to outdoor recreation?

PG: I can honestly say everything is on the table, because so little is known about our audience. In the next weeks and months we'll learn what our readership loves and hates and try to respond accordingly. But I know for sure we could do amazing things on the iPad with pieces about, say, Shaun White's next big trick or kayaking some unnavigable river in Asia.

WO: Being right there in the media heartland, what's the reaction from other media types when you tell them what you're doing?

PG: Mostly curiosity, with a tinge of envy -- and more than a little snark, this being New York and all. It is remarkable -- and often unsettling -- to me how the media is a story all in its own here. This venture has earned more than its share of attention and, now that we're live, certainly will be watched with a very discerning eye. We better do it well.

WO: You're an editor. Should PR people pitch you with story ideas, and if so, what kind and how best to do it?

PG: I've always said, everything in moderation. Pitch judiciously, and you'll be taken seriously. An e-mail is best for me, personally. Phone calls ... no thank you.

WO: You're an editor. Should freelancers pitch you with story ideas, and if so, what kind and how best to do it?

PG: Good stories are always welcome. We suggest looking at what we're doing in the first few weeks of The Daily to get a flavor for what we're looking for. Three-thousand-word stem-winders probably aren't the way to go on this device, but alternative, edgy, fun storytelling is always part of a good pitch. That said ... a good story is a good story, and we want them.

WO: Do you still read newspapers, not on-line either, but real newsprint and ink newspapers?

PG: I get a couple delivered to my door every day. And most days, I actually get a chance to read a little of them. I still love reading the paper -- the paper paper -- and expect I always will.

WO: What do you have for an iPad?

PG: I have the 32GB, 3G-ready model. She's all I can handle and then some.

WO: Nas or Jay-Z?

PG: Neil Young.

- MC

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