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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Christy Bertelson, Another Top Editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Bids Adieu

Posted By on Wed, Aug 19, 2009 at 5:15 PM

Christy Bertelson, the deputy managing editor for features at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, announced today that she's retiring after 23 years at the daily.

Bertelson grew up at the Post - literally. Not only did she advance through the ranks, from reporter to columnist to editorial page editor and then features editor, but her father, Arthur Bertelson, spent his whole career at the (then-Pulitzer-owned) paper, including a stint as executive editor from 1966 and 1972.

Under Christy Bertelson's direction, the Post's editorial page was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, twice. She oversaw several makeovers of the daily's features section since taking it over in 2007. (She's the second editor in the paper's top ranks to step down this month.)

Those who read Bertelson's parting memo (published after the jump), will lament all the years it's been since her byline appeared atop a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story.  
Thank you to everyone who has made my work better, made my life richer and made my many years at the Post-Dispatch so much fun.

The PD newsroom we work in today bears scant resemblance to the newsroom where I worked as a high school student, writing bridal announcements for the society page.

There are no spittoons on the floor, no cigars, handguns or liquor bottles stuffed in desk drawers. No one sends the copy boy across the street for Manhattans at 10 a.m., or sleeps on top of his desk. Editors today are less (overtly) tyrannical than when I started, and not a single one wears a Homburg or a bow tie.

It's a frustrating and thrilling time to be a journalist. Frustrating because we are yoked to an obsolete business model; thrilling because creativity and innovation are the only way forward. By definition, the true enemy of change is the status quo. Mediocre ideas and faint hearts will not get us where we need to go.

Yet in some fundamental ways, the newsroom remains unchanged. It is still a beacon for dreamers and reformers, a stage for storytellers and voyeurs, and a playground for curious, passionate, irreverent people. What other business would tolerate our lot?

That thought makes me happy -- and hopeful.


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