Get to know the APME: Alan Miller
Monday, August 29, 2016
Alan D. Miller
Where you work
The Columbus Dispatch
Brief career history
Alan D. Miller is editor of The Columbus Dispatch. He started at the paper as a reporter in 1984 and has covered regional news, urban affairs, Columbus City Hall, and higher education. He was an assistant city editor, state editor and assistant managing editor before becoming managing editor in 2004 and editor in 2015. He is immediate past president of the national Associated Press Media Editors association, president of the APME Foundation and a member of the professional advisory board for the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. He teaches journalism at Denison University in Granville. He previously worked at The Repository in Canton, The Daily Record in Wooster and the Orrville Courier-Crescent. He has bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from Ohio University.
How long have you been a member of the APME Board?
I joined the board in 2008.
How has being a member of APME helped you as a journalist?
APME members are hard-working and selfless. These editors want to see this industry thrive and are willing to give their time, talents and service toward that goal. APME board members, in particular, are terrific about supporting one another and serving as resources for other editors when they face challenges or need advice or help. It's a family of editors who are looking out for one another and the industry.
What projects have you worked on as an APME Board member?
I led the Sounding Board for many years, conducting surveys of editors on relevant topics and sharing the results. I've also been involved in conference planning and logistics; helped with fundraising for various projects, including NewsTrain and the Community Service Journalism Grants program; and was involved in planning and coordinating several of the national reporting projects APME has done with the Associated Press.
What is a recent challenge you faced in your newsroom and how did you overcome it?
We came under new ownership, moved to a new computer system, adopted a dramatically new workflow and moved to a new building — all at once. We rose to those challenges with teamwork within the newsroom, good planning and good communication. Mostly, I'm blessed to work with a great group of journalists who always do their best when we're under the gun.
What is your most rewarding career accomplishment?
The rewards come with supporting great journalism from a terrific team and then hearing reactions from readers whose lives were affected by our work. We published a series in 2015 about the epidemic that suicide has become in the U.S., held a community forum on the topic after the "Silent Suffering" series ran, and a young woman came up to me at the forum and said, "I want you to know that you saved my life." Wow!
The Dispatch did a series in 2008 on Ohio's woeful collection, retention and use of DNA evidence in felony cases that is still bearing fruit. In the eight years since the "Test of Convictions" series ran, seven innocent men have been freed from prison because of Dispatch reporting. I can't think of a higher calling than to be involved in journalism that results in righting that kind of wrong.
The fact is, we do that in big and small ways every day.
What’s your favorite quote or motto?
"The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night." -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
If you had an extra hour during a day what would you do with it?
I'd like to say that I'd do something profound, but the reality is that I'd probably work another hour, because journalism has never felt like work or a job to me. It's a calling.
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