What Makes The News Depends On Who Is Writing

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What is news?

There are the obvious things that happen at council meetings -- the decisions made by our elected officials. There are the stories of crime, loss and sports triumph that are the traditional fodder of newspaper.

But beyond the town council agenda, what makes headlines? What fills in the spaces in this paper between the new ordinances and the zoning changes?

The subtle puzzlework of a newspaper depends largely on who is writing the news. The people parked at the keyboards in any newsroom look at the world through their experiences and through their own eyes they see what is interesting and what is important.

Those personal outlooks drive the profiles and the features and the events that get attention.

On the most basic level, "news" is often what happens when a reporter is around and when that reporter is engaged.

That is why it is important for our readers to know who our reporters are and a little bit about their backgrounds.

Here they are:

Carol La Valley has been working for the Payson Roundup since November 2004. Before coming to the Roundup, La Valley was a massage therapist. She became a reporter at the age of 38, following her life goal of becoming be writer by 40.

She enjoys writing profiles. "Everyone has a story to tell," she said. "I like trying to translate that story into 600 words and make someone else think, ‘Wow, I want to meet this person.'"

She covers education, science, religion and arts and entertainment.

Teresa McQuerrey is a 1973 graduate of Payson High School. She attended Northern Arizona University and has been a working journalist for nearly 30 years. She came to the Roundup in 2002 from the Camp Verde Journal, which is the only non-daily newspaper in Arizona to win Newspaper of the Year besides the Roundup. She enjoys writing stories that show the goodness in people.

She covers seniors, business and coordinates all our special sections, such as Fall Guide and Progress.

Michael Maresh is the newest addition to the Roundup reporting staff. He joined the staff in May 2006. Before working at the Roundup, he has been a reporter for the Sierra Vista Herald/Bisbee Daily Review, the Daily News Sun, the Hobbs News Sun and the Coolidge Examiner.

He graduated from Arizona State University in 1995 with a bachelor's in journalism with a minor in history. He enjoys writing political and investigative stories.

He covers Star Valley, cops and courts, and county.

Max Foster is a Roundup veteran. He has worked for the paper for 21 years. He is a retired schoolteacher and found his way into the newspaper business when he was the football coach at Show Low High School.

"I went into the White Mountain Independent to complain about the coverage of my football team," Foster said. "It was the beginning of the summer and the editor said, ‘If you think you can do better, our sports writer just quit. You can have the job for the summer.'

"Like a smart (aleck), I knew I can do better. I took the job.

"When I came to Payson, the editor asked for help after the sports writer left. I said, ‘Yes, I'll help for a couple weeks.'"

That was 21 years ago.

Foster likes to write stories about kids being successful, doing good things and achieving, he said. "I don't enjoy the other kind, but they have to be done."

Jason Pettifield came on board in June of this year as our staff photographer. He moved to Payson from Tucson where he grew up and went to college. Before coming to the Roundup he worked as a commercial and fashion photographer.

This is his first job as a photojournalist.

Felicia Megdal started working for the Roundup in November 2004. She grew up in Southern California. Lived in Portland, Ore. for years, where she got her bachelor's in communication from the Portland State University. She worked as a communications director at the American Institute of Architects. She went to graduate school at Columbia University in New York.

She worked for PBS and the Discovery Channel as an associate producer. She moved back to Los Angeles, leaving journalism behind to work for Universal Music Group. She moved to Payson in July 2004.

She likes to write about social issues and human interest stories.

She covers the Payson town council, planning and zoning, and history for the Roundup.

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