Ledger newsroom welcomes new face
Some of you might have seen a byline from “Andy Hallman” in the newspaper this week and wondered who that was. An explanation is in order.
On Monday of this week I became the news editor at The Fairfield Ledger. I most recently worked as a reporter for our sister newspaper to the north, The Washington Evening Journal. I was at The Journal for more than three years, from October 2009 until just this past Friday.
Although I’ve lived in southeast Iowa for a few years, my knowledge of Fairfield was rather limited. It was outside of The Journal’s coverage area, which was confined mostly to Washington County. That’s why I was excited to take this position. It will give me a chance to meet new people and learn all about a new county, which I can already tell is teeming with activity.
The truth is that I’m still learning a lot about southeast Iowa, since this is not where I grew up. I was born and raised in a small town in northwest Iowa called Pocahontas. Those who settled that part of the state must have been Virginia-history buffs because they named a neighboring town “Rolfe,” after Pocahontas’s husband John Rolfe (and not John Smith as the Disney movie would have you believe).
That Disney movie brought great notoriety to our humble town when it was released in 1995. We managed to convince Disney to premiere the film in our downtown theater, which had just been renovated and reopened after years of disuse. We are very proud of our town’s name. Those who have visited Pocahontas will likely remember seeing a 30-foot tall statue of Princess Pocahontas on the major highway.
My career in the newspaper business began in Pocahontas and at a young age. I was 10 years old when I started delivering newspapers for the Pocahontas Record-Democrat. In high school, I began writing for that paper under the supervision of Brooks Taylor, who is now the news editor at another Golden Triangle publication, The Mt. Pleasant News.
I wrote mostly sports stories the first few years at the Record-Democrat, or “The RD” as we called it. I also helped put the paper together using the old-fashioned method of “paste up,” where the stories are printed off, cut out and attached to a template with hot wax.
Upon enrolling in college my writing at the RD was limited to the summers. I attended Iowa State University where I majored in Political Science with a minor in Spanish. I still wrote considerably but instead of drafting stories about the junior varsity baseball team I was crafting essays on the Cuban Revolution.
By my junior year of college I had developed an interest in learning a foreign language. I had already taken a few years of Spanish in high school, and Spanish seemed to be the most practical foreign tongue to learn, so the choice was easy.
I spent my entire senior year of college studying Spanish in Cuernavaca, Mexico. I lived with a couple of host families with whom I spoke only Spanish.
I graduated from Iowa State in the spring of 2008 after I returned from Mexico. Later that year I found a job as a reporter in Webster City at The Daily Freeman Journal. A year after that, Taylor knew that I was looking for another job and suggested I apply to be a reporter at The Washington Evening Journal.
I’ll never forget my first day at The Journal. We heard over the police scanner that a bank in town had been robbed. Luckily, law enforcement apprehended the culprits within 10 minutes. What an introduction to Washington!
I’m glad I had the chance to work with the staff at The Journal. They are all kind people and excel at what they do. In just four days at The Ledger, I sense the staff here are just as intelligent and friendly, which should make this a great place to work and Fairfield a wonderful place to live.
Andy Hallman is news editor at The Fairfield Ledger.