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American Journalism Review
Changing of the Guard  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  Features
From AJR,   October/November 2005

Changing of the Guard   

AJR welcomes a new managing editor and bids a fond hasta luego to an all-time favorite.

By Rem Rieder
Rem Rieder (rrieder@ajr.umd.edu) is AJR's editor and senior vice president.      


It started with a call from Kathy Kiely.

Kiely, a USA Today congressional reporter, Pittsburgh Steelers fan extraordinaire and all-around Great American, told me about a reporter she knew who was launching a freelance career. Would I be willing to talk to her?

That's how Rachel Smolkin entered the world of AJR.

We had lunch, and it was clear from the get-go that she was very smart. It soon became obvious that she was very talented as well. Rachel started writing for AJR and hasn't stopped. She's had a major piece in virtually every issue since September 2002.

And now she's becoming AJR's managing editor.

That's a great development for the magazine. I'm certain she'll be a terrific partner. And it helps offset the sad news that Lori Robertson is leaving. She's heading for Latin America, where she plans to study Spanish, travel and write.

Lori has been AJR's managing editor since 2001, after a three-and-a-half-year stint as assistant managing editor. Before that she freelanced for us for a year while she was administrative director of the Casey Journalism Center for Children and Families, which at the time was located in the basement of the house that AJR then called home. And before that, she was essentially AJR's cruise director, organizing parties, lunches and beers on the deck.

And she has excelled in every role.

I've been in journalism management positions for 30 years, and I consider two of my very best decisions hiring and promoting Lori.

It's very hard to imagine the place without her which we won't have to entirely, since she plans to freelance for us when (if?) she returns from her adventures.

Not long ago I walked into Lori's office and asked her if she thought I'd be all right without her. "I'm leaving you in good hands," she said, pointing to Rachel's office. And she's correct.

Rachel is an excellent journalist who cares passionately about the field. She's got a great work ethic. It's hard to imagine a smoother transition.

A graduate of Brown University, Rachel covered Washington for Scripps Howard News Service and for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-Toledo Blade bureau before going out on her own. We're very glad she's here.

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