OPINION — Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Tyler L. Maffitt and I am the new editor in chief of St. George News.
It is with great enthusiasm, but a sense of humility, that I accept this position and the challenge of providing our readers with accurate, informed and comprehensive news coverage. Under the banner of St. George News, I am recommitting myself and this newsroom to the principles that have guided excellent reporting in the past and, I believe, will allow us to make impactful contributions in the future.
I would like to take this time to thank Canyon Media General Manager Ben Lindquist, Director of News Operations Shane Brinkerhoff and my predecessor Paul Dail – who has decided after much consideration to relinquish his role as editor in chief to return to his previous position as a managing editor in order to spend more time with family. Their dedication and resourcefulness during this transition has been unrivaled. I am grateful for their leadership and for the opportunity to work alongside them.
Further, I would like to thank the residents of St. George and Southern Utah for the warm welcome my family received upon our arrival. Your courtesy and generosity are among the characteristics that attracted me here in the first place. It is my most sincere wish to return the favor many times over.
Accepting the position of editor in chief marks the end of a significant chapter in my life. Nineteen months ago, my wife and I left Chicagoland to travel the United States full-time in our truck and fifth-wheel RV. Despite successful careers in our respective industries, we set off with the intent to welcome change and gain perspective on what is truly important.
I first visited St. George in February of last year. It’s unsurprising given my past, but I felt an instant connection. Southwest of my hometown of Fremont, Nebraska, there’s a historical marker designating the former site of the Liberty Pole. This was a common resting spot for Latter-day Saints fleeing Illinois and the Iowa territory to park their covered wagons along what came to be known as the Mormon Pioneer Trail.
Later in life, one of my first full-time jobs was working in radio news in western Illinois not far from Nauvoo. I stayed in Illinois for nearly a decade, but after many years of watching the Land of Lincoln battle large public-sector pension liabilities and relatively high outmigration, my wife and I made the difficult decision to leave. Doing so allowed us to embark on a cross-country expedition in search of a new home. Journaling the experience throughout my travels, I reflected fondly on my time in the Beehive State.
“I have to say it’s just unreal people live in a place like this,” I penned following my stay in St. George.
To me, Utah’s Dixie isn’t just a postcard. It embodies the values many areas of this great nation overlook: respect, hard work and a willingness to help your neighbors to name a few. I mean it literally when saying I have searched for this position, this community and this state all over the country. I intend to treat my work with that same clarity of purpose.
My admiration, however, is balanced against a healthy perspective that all communities face challenges, problems and disagreements. Southern Utah is no exception. St. George News’ coverage of those issues will be done with class, tenacity, an uncompromising dedication to facts and a careful consideration of differing ideas.
As a newcomer to the region, I understand I still have many things to learn. But St. George is a community undergoing incredible growth. Like this city, I intend to embrace change while recognizing the history and traditions that make it a fantastic place to live.
I would like to conclude with a few thoughts on the modern era in news. For those criticizing journalism as akin to political activism, fake news and partisanship, you have been heard. I accept your challenge to prove otherwise and am offering a sincere commitment to seek truth. For those that believe reporters should hold those in positions of power accountable, shed light on issues facing communities without a voice and bring transparency to our institutions, you can count on it.
My goal is to build on what has already been put in place at St. George News. Believing in the values that create fantastic news coverage and telling the stories of the people that live here is a starting place. Doing so with credibility while advancing a quality understanding of those issues is what we will attempt to do every single day.
I can think of no better time to start than now.