Beacon associate editor says, 'Hello Rhode Island'
Greetings, Rhode Island! Allow me to officially introduce myself. I am the new associate editor at the Beacon, Ethan Hartley.
My path to Warwick has been an interesting one and, although I never would have guessed that I would be in this room writing this column, I am pleased to be doing so.
Although I can’t claim Rhode Island as my native home, I am a native New Englander. I was born in Massachusetts on July 16, 1992 and grew up in a small town called North Reading, a suburb about 30 minutes north of Boston and 30 minutes south of New Hampshire.
I had a happy childhood, blessed with an angelic but grounded mother and a hardworking-to-a-fault father who, perhaps accidentally, each provided me with the perfect amounts of love and attentive parenting. They let me have fun, they let me screw up, but they also held me accountable and wouldn’t tolerate rudeness, bad attitudes or destructive behavior.
Funnily enough, I got my first job in newspapers before I even knew I wanted to be a journalist. For about six months I hawked the Boston Globe outside of Dunkin Donuts (perhaps the most “New England” job a kid could have), waking up at 6 a.m. each Sunday to sit in the cold and hopefully make $40 if I was lucky. Little did I know that the pay doesn’t get much better.
Originally, all I planned on being my entire life was a police officer. I never knew why, but it was always the first answer I gave when asked the, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question that kids get nonstop. My mom told me once that I always had a natural inclination towards justice, probably from all the Power Rangers I watched as a child.
However I realized in high school, probably when I faced the fact that I could get lost venturing 15 minutes away from my house, that I lacked the certain brain and skill set required to be a cop. That sense of justice, however, never left me. When a teacher told me that a paper I had written junior year of high school was far above her standards (the first compliment I had ever received for my writing), something inside clicked.
From that very moment on, I have been following this strange and exciting path of professional journalism. I got my start at Suffolk University, where I began as a doughy, freshman sports writer for the online newspaper, The Suffolk Voice, eventually progressing to be the news editor and emerged ultimately as the editor-in-chief my senior year.
My junior year I joined an honors program that went to study abroad in Prague, Czech Republic from September to December of 2012. I got to visit Munich, Krakow, Vienna, Amsterdam and a couple incredible locations around the Czech countryside. Without a doubt, the trip helped form who I am today, giving me confidence and perspective that is impossible to obtain without truly putting yourself out into the unknown.
The summer after I got home, I was selected for an incredibly competitive internship with the Boston Bruins. I wrote for the team’s official website, attended every home game to assist the team beat writer, went to practices and community events, interviewed players and everything in between. It was one of the most insanely difficult, terrifying and awesome experiences of my life.
After I graduated in May of 2014, I landed a fulltime journalism gig with Gatehouse Media (the conglomerate media corporation that bought out the Providence Journal a few years back), on the North Shore of Massachusetts. I wrote for Danvers, Beverly and Medford, Massachusetts (with many other communities sprinkled throughout).
My time at Gatehouse was critical for my growth as a writer. I learned every day on the job and was surrounded by people who cared about me and still believed in the ideals of what journalism is all about – accountability, fairness, accuracy and, most importantly, uncovering the truth behind things.
After about three years there, I realized it was my time to head elsewhere. I was introduced to John Howell through a totally random connection made possible by my girlfriend – a Warwick native and 2010 graduate of Vets. I must have done okay in my interviews because, well, here I am.
When I started on June 26, I really had no idea what was in store for me. I knew I was capable of covering any story – as one of my first assignments in professional journalism was following a lengthy, grisly murder trial involving a teenager who murdered his math teacher – but I didn’t know how I would adjust to a totally new state, and a totally new environment.
Luckily, Rhode Island shares many similarities to Massachusetts. I can rock all the same Boston sports gear, so no issues there. You have better beaches (by far), similar roads, horrible drivers and traffic jams (unfortunately), a beautiful capital city and delicious local food and drink establishments in all the towns and cities I’ve been thus far. I don’t feel like a fish out of water here, just maybe one in a smaller pond.
I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised by how accessible and friendly the entire state seems to be. In two weeks in Rhode Island I have already met more state representatives and senators than in my entire tenure up north. I already feel as though I’m a part of the Warwick community.
I can also tell that the reputation of the Beacon, and specifically the reputation of its publisher, far surpasses any level of respect I felt at my past publications. When I call people here, they call me back, and within the same hour usually!
In Massachusetts, there is a certain degree of separation to things. The North Shore feels very different from the Boston Metro area, and Western Mass might as well be a different country. Rhode Island’s small size makes such unfamiliarity impossible. I am really enjoying that community feel so far.
I never envisioned doing this kind of work, but now that I do, I can’t imagine doing anything else. I promise that I will always take my job seriously and always try to give you interesting and important stories to help you escape from the routines of daily life. I believe strongly in the value and importance of journalism, and I will strive to become a voice you can rely on and trust in these increasingly confusing and infuriating times.
Rhode Island, I look forward to getting to know you better, and I’ll get used to not having to use area codes before giving phone numbers – eventually.
Send me any story tips or just say hello by sending an email to EthanH
@RhodyBeat.com and follow me on Twitter @LocalEhartley
Ethan Hartley, the new associate editor for the Warwick Beacon.