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WNN - St. Cloud Times - Interviews

John Bodette

Executive Editor

John Bodette started his 37-year journalism career in 1974 as wire editor at the St. Cloud Times. He also served as city editor and news editor. He was named managing editor at the Times in 1986 and executive editor Dec. 23, 2005. In 1981, he was one of the original journalists on the prototype project that helped create USA Today.

Bodette is a past president of the Minnesota Associated Press Managing Editors Association. He was the winner of the 2008 Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity Leadership. Bodette is a graduate of St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minn. To relax, he runs triathlons, duathlons, half marathons and marathons -- none of them very fast.

[MN 0201] - Part 1: Introduction & Contribution (6:08)

John Bodette, executive editor, The St. Cloud Times, started at The Times in March 1974. Bodette says his first few months at the newspaper were like an apprenticeship. “If I did not make the same mistake twice, I’d be OK,” Bodette convinced himself. And he says he learned quickly, “It’s local news that matters. In a democracy, the citizens make the decisions,” says Bodette, “and we as a newspaper provide that absolutely critical … local information so that citizens are informed and can use that to make up their minds as to what they want their community to be.”

[MN 0202] - Part 2: The Ethics & Content (6:43)

John Bodette, executive editor, The St. Cloud Times, says the Gannett Company’s corporate ethics code is posted on its walls, and any staffer can call an “ethical time out” when an ethical question needs resolution. When that happens, “We stop what we are doing and have a thorough discussion,” says Bodette. The Times uses the same ethical code for its online news, and “everything is edited before it goes up,” says Bodette. Bodette says readers are often concerned about some of the anonymous comments, which end up on The Times’ chat page. “Free speech is very messy,” says Bodette, “but if you really have free speech, those are the kinds of things you are going to hear.”

[MN 0203] - Part 3: Strategic Changes (8:18)

John Bodette, executive editor, The St. Cloud Times, says all his newspaper’s reporters now carry a compact video camera along with a smart phone. “Because there are no TV stations in this market,” says Bodette, “it’s quite an advantage to have that.” The Times also uses the Internet to provide in-depth information. The Times has posted “the salaries of all state workers” and the employees of the University of Minnesota –“71,000 names and salaries,” says Bodette.

[MN 0204] - Part 4: Adaptation & the Future (4:12)

John Bodette, executive editor, The St. Cloud Times, says, looking forward, he expects the fundamental part of the newspaper’s mission will stay the same. We need to report the news “as accurately and as completely and as fairly and as timely as we can – and that won’t change,” says Bodette. However, “the tools, the methods of delivering that information may change a great deal.” “A good newspaper is like community talking to itself,” says Bodette. “I want this newspaper to continue to be the place that this community goes to have those conversations.” And Bodette is determined to keep The Times in business. “There have been a lot of good editors over [our] 150 years that have dealt with grasshopper plagues, floods, tornadoes, world wars, depressions,” says Bodette, “And I’ll be darned if this executive editor is going to be the one to turn the lights out on this place.”

[MN 0205] - Part 5: Prospects & Preparation (3:06)

John Bodette, executive editor, The St. Cloud Times, says, “This is one of the most exciting times to be involved in journalism because of the stakes.” Bodette advises students to “learn as much as you can about everything,” because he says “everyone does everything now” -- meaning: writing, reporting, shooting stills and shooting video. And bring passion about the job to the workplace, says Bodette, “The people who go into journalism who are the very best – then they will have jobs.”