I might be the new editor of the Warrensburg Star-Journal, but this isn’t my first time leading the newsroom of a community newspaper, and it isn’t the first time I’ve worked for a Warrensburg newspaper.

My journalism career started in the Muleskinner newsroom at the University of Central Missouri. Although, if we want to get really technical, it started in the Epic Yearbook newsroom at Lee’s Summit West High School.

I learned how to find news story ideas, honed my interviewing skills, worked late nights in the newsroom, and became a journalist while studying public relations and journalism at UCM. Some of my favorite college memories are tied to that newsroom on the third floor of the Wood building. My connections at the Muleskinner actually led to my first post-grad job as the education reporter at the Sedalia Democrat in 2013, something I am eternally grateful for and something that led me to where I am today: editor of two community newspapers, the Sedalia Democrat and the Warrensburg Star-Journal.

I share all of this information with you not to bore you with my resume, but to let you know I’m a nearly lifelong Missourian, and I understand the importance of local journalism. I promise I’m not some corporate editor who sits behind a big desk all day, ready to make sweeping changes to a newspaper. I am ready, however, to make improvements to a struggling newspaper in a community that deserves quality news each week. I’m ready to reacquaint myself with Warrensburg and all it has to offer. I’m ready to meet our readers and community leaders. I’m ready to report a story or take a photo when needed.

I’m ready to make the Warrensburg Star-Journal a newspaper you and I can be proud of.

Now, I do have to ask for your patience. Publisher Will Weibert and I, along with our Warrensburg and Sedalia employees, are working on the initial transition from one company to another. You’ll see some slow changes, such as the partial redesign of this week’s print edition. Eventually, other aspects will get their own redesign, and soon the website will too. Having one ownership for two newspapers means we can cross-sell advertising into multiple products, allowing for a larger audience for our advertisers. We can share news content when it is relevant to both readerships, allowing our reporters to produce more content.

While I don’t have an office in Warrensburg, I hope to meet many of our loyal subscribers in the coming months as I make trips to Warrensburg and schedule meetings with various people. My virtual door is always open at nicolec@phillipsmedia.com, as well as my real door at 700 S. Massachusetts Ave. in Sedalia.

I encourage you to contact me, as well as reporters Dustin Steinhoff and Sara Lawson, with story ideas. In a county with thousands of residents, it’s impossible for us to know everything that is happening, so the newsroom partially relies on our fellow citizens in west central Missouri to help us out. I also hope you’ll send me an email or give me a quick call to let me know about a story you loved or when we got it wrong.

Journalists are human, so mistakes are inevitable. But, on behalf of the Star-Journal staff, I promise we’ll do our best each day to cover as many aspects of Johnson County life as possible as accurately as possible. 

National Newspaper Week is celebrated Oct. 4-10 this year, and that seems like a fitting time to start a new chapter in the history of the Warrensburg Star-Journal. It recognizes the service of newspapers and their employees across the country. 

Operating a quality local newspaper takes not only a hard-working staff, but the support of the community it covers, whether that is through purchasing subscriptions or advertising, offering story ideas, or simply using the Star-Journal to get your daily local news rather than social media.

Thank you for supporting the Star-Journal for the last 155 years, and I’m looking forward to this new opportunity with you.

Nicole Cooke is the editor of the Warrensburg Star-Journal and the Sedalia Democrat. She can be reached at nicolec@phillipsmedia.com, 660-530-0138 or on Twitter @NicoleRCooke.

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