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Shea is new Messenger editor

As Curtis retires, former city editor is promoted to lead the newspaper

Today, Bill Shea becomes editor of The Messenger.

Shea has been the newspaper’s city editor for four years. Chad Thompson will succeed him in that position.

These changes come as Editor Jane Curtis retires from The Messenger.

“I couldn’t be more confident in two professionals,” Curtis said. “Bill and I came to our positions almost simultaneously, so it has been our partnership that has led The Messenger during that time. Together, we guided the newsroom to focus on local news. And, together, we hired Chad Thompson. They are a rock solid pair. That’s why I know it is a good time to step down and hand them the throttle. The Messenger is going places, and I couldn’t be prouder.”

Shea joined the staff of The Messenger in September 1997. Since that time, he has covered city government, politics and the military.

In 2015, he became the city editor. In that role he continued his reporting duties while overseeing the day-to-day operations of the newsroom.

Prior to coming to The Messenger, he worked as a reporter for The Daily Union in Junction City, Kansas, from 1994 to 1997.

Shea started his career with the Latrobe Bulletin in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where he worked from 1991 to 1994.

During his career, he has received writing awards from the Associated Press Managing Editors and the National Newspaper Association.

The Pennsylvania native earned a bachelor’s degree from Wartburg College in Waverly.

“I look forward to guiding our newsroom in producing the same high quality local news coverage Messenger readers have come to expect.”

Thompson, who grew up in Humboldt, holds a bachelor’s degree from Buena Vista University.

In December of 2015, he joined the staff of The Messenger, where he has covered education, business, lifestyle and crime stories.

He directs the newspaper’s Sunday business page.

Thompson has played a critical role in increasing the online and social media presence of The Messenger.

He has won Associated Press Media Editors awards in both writing and photography.

As for Curtis, she leaves behind a legacy with The Messenger’s parent company, Ogden Publishing, that began in 1977 when she walked into the front office of the Daily Freeman-Journal in Webster City, looking for a job. Her experience since has followed the same fortunate path that took her there on that day.

“I was looking for any work,” Curtis said. “As I stood at the counter waiting, my former high school journalism teacher, Louise Rudkin, came up to me from her desk in the newsroom. She said, ‘Are you here to apply for city editor?'”

That question changed Curtis’ life.

“Not long afterwards, I began to earnestly learn the world of local journalism. I covered city council. I was the cops and courts reporter. I ran the darkroom. I chased ambulances, almost literally. In those days, the newspaper had an agreement that its photographer, me, would provide investigative photos for any major accidents. I was on call always. After I lost a clog in 3 feet of snow early in my career when a plane crashed I packed a pair of jeans, a sweatshirt and some sneakers in the trunk of my car. Those, a notebook and a camera were the tools of my trade.”

Curtis eventually left that job to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State University. Then she moved to Connecticut where, for The Home News, out of New Brunswick, New Jersey, she created The Washington Eagle newspaper in Washington, Connecticut. She was promoted to the position of managing editor of The New Milford Times, in New Milford, Connecticut, not long after that.

Prior to returning to Iowa in 2004, Curtis worked as a freelance writer in Connecticut and Denver, Colorado.

“This is a fascinating time in the news business,” Curtis said. “So many changes are affecting how we do our work, and how it is delivered to our readers. But one thing will never change — the need for local news. It is the meat and potatoes that the public, whether they realize it or not, craves. Under Shea and Thompson, I expect The Messenger to answer that craving.”