A new face at the Herald, but community focus will remain

Khokhobashvili named editor
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili
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First things first: My last name is pronounced Ho-ho-bosh-VEE-lee, a mouthful of a surname that is actually fairly common in the former republic of Georgia, where my husband’s family lives. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time – trust me, I’m used to it.

The reality of my new job didn’t really hit me until I said it out loud to a reader who asked about my new position.

“I’m the new editor of the Placer Herald, in Rocklin,” I said, and then had to take a long, deep breath as it sunk in.

You see, this is my dream job.

I’ve wanted to be a newspaper editor since high school, when I wrote for and occasionally edited Paw Prints, the student newspaper of Alberton High School in a teeny-tiny town in western Montana. Somehow, at a school in the mountains with only 17 people in my graduating class, I found a love for writing that was encouraged by my teachers and friends. During my last year in high school, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York City, and as I headed into the world of journalism the only thing I was sure of was that I was going to be part of a rapidly changing industry.

And so I am. My education at The University of Montana provided the foundation for my career as a journalist. In addition to courses in writing, editing and graphic design, I learned about blogging, online news and a new social media platform that was gathering more users every day – Facebook. I watched the blogosphere grow from a few writers commenting on their everyday lives to the extreme citizen journalism I saw unfold live as New Orleans residents risked their own safety to keep blogging as Hurricane Katrina came ashore.

As the longtime city editor for the Calaveras Enterprise, I learned even more about new ways to tell stories. While I’ll always appreciate a traditional newspaper read over a hot cup of coffee, my mornings are now spent checking my phone for breaking news updates and scanning Twitter and Facebook for story leads. When I cover a story, I’m thinking not only about what the best words to use are, but also how to illustrate the story and add value to it online via photo slideshows, videos, informational widgets and Tweets.

Regardless of the medium used to tell a story, my core beliefs about the importance of reporting and good writing remain the same.

I believe that my job would not exist without readers. I will rely on you heavily to let me know what you’d like to see in the Placer Herald – and what aspects of the paper you’d like to see change.

I believe in unbiased reporting. I also believe that, like readers, I’m human, and so of course have an opinion. If I share my opinion with you, it will be on the editorial page only, and with my name and face right there next to it. You won’t find my position hidden under an editorial written without a byline. You also won’t find any candidate endorsements from me, as I believe endorsements cloud future reporting long after the election is over – regardless of its outcome.

I believe in taking ownership of what I write, I believe in admitting when I’ve made a mistake and I believe in being available to the readers of the Placer Herald. Please, stop by the office, send me a letter, shoot me an email, call me, Facebook me or Tweet at me. I’m listening.