MTP welcomes executive editor
The High Country draws residents like no other North Carolina locale.
For some, it's the scenery. For others, it's the climate.
For Tom Mayer, it's community journalism.
Mayer was recently named executive editor of Mountain Times Publications (MTP) and editor-in-chief of the Watauga Democrat.
Armed with 15 years' experience and a passion for his field, Mayer comes to the High Country from Lake City, Fla., where he served as editor of the Lake City Reporter.
"I have a strong belief in community journalism, which brought me back to (North Carolina)," said Mayer, who'd previously worked in Asheboro and New Bern. "My personal philosophy is that community journalism is the future of newspapers, because we provide what other media outlets cannot provide. There are so many other avenues to get news, but only in your local newspaper can you find local content."
And as a Navy veteran, Mayer's passion runs deep.
"As a Navy vet - I was a nuclear reactor operator - I'd spent a few years in math and sciences, but decided to go back to my first love, which was English," Mayer said. "So, I jumped ship and took a job as a reporter and just fell in love with it, writing in a community direction and making a difference in the community."
Mayer holds a master's degree in English, has taught on the college level, and has worked in community newspapers from upstate New York to the Lake Ontario area to southern Mississippi.
As executive editor of MTP, Mayer oversees operations of the newspaper group's numerous publications, including The Mountain Times, Ashe Mountain Times, Watauga Democrat, Blowing Rocket, Avery Journal-Times and All About Women magazine.
"We're not taking away any local control from the publications' respective editors," he said. "I'm going to assist with refining resources, keeping these papers relevant to the community, and the strengthening of these papers, while maintaining that strong base of our core readership that's been loyal for all these years."
As editor of the Watauga Democrat, Mayer intends to celebrate a more specific passion - the editorial page.
"We need to become the paper of record - the news source for all things local, never losing that focus," he said. "We need to hold accountable those who need to be held accountable, promote those who need to be promoted and give praise where praise is due. Watchdog journalism is extremely important to me."
Mayer's particularly excited about the Democrat's new Sunday edition. "It's what our readers have been asking for, and it's something that'll only get better as time goes on," he said.
MTP publisher Gene Fowler shares Mayer's enthusiasm.
"Tom's commitment to journalism and community is exceptional, and he's already demonstrated that throughout his career," Fowler said. "Now, he's literally working at a higher level."
Mayer, who moved to the area with wife Sonja and daughters Victoria, 14, and Shelby, 11, received a warm reception.
"We've run into so many people who've been helpful in so many ways we'd never expected, just from store clerks to next door neighbors who've already brought us cookies," he said. "It's got a good small-town feel, but there's big-town resources. I love the High Country - it's been fantastic since we've been up here."
To contact Mayer, e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org)