Judy McGovern


Judy McGovern A native of western New York State, I came to Ann Arbor by way of Ohio.

I'd expected to devote my career to news, but the rapid decline of the industry's financial fortunes changed that.

A stint in philanthropy let me use my journalism skills in different ways.

I've since found a niche closer to home: I'm adviser to the team of Washtenaw Community College students responsible for the Washtenaw Voice. It's fun to see their enthusiasm and anxiety-producing to watch them face deadline.

Other interests? Fussing over: my garden; the Tigers; missing the best light for photos; and whether I’ll ever again ski more than 15 days a season. There's a little space devoted to after-hours pursuits here: Rec room.

Recent tours of duty

Washtenaw Community College
As a past student in WCC's web-development program, joining the staff felt a bit like coming home. I work with students through each 10-month academic year, supporting their efforts to gather news, make great photos and deliver it in well-designed pixels and print. (2015-today)
The Kresge Foundation
I joined the foundation as associate director of communications (later rechristened deputy director) in early 2011. I worked on a new website, contributed to print projects and helped my colleagues take their first steps into social media. (2011-2015)
Some highlights – The website was a major project, and opportunities to refine and enhance it ensured it was an ongoing effort. I was able to use IA-UX and other Web know-how to partner with external developers on projects such as an opt-in email alert system that grew to 10,000 subscribers. We implemented faceted search and migrated once-printbound grant information to the Web. As chief content officer, I created a content pipeline highlighting foundation-funded activities that helped tell Kresge’s story and provided material for presentations, speeches and similar uses. I introduced multi-media reporting and established the foundation’s first social media presence, building an audience of 19,500-plus on multiple platforms. The Drupal-based website garnered a national communications award as well as nonprofit-sector recognition for making the foundation and its operations more transparent.
Freelance writer and editor
After years with fairly large organizations, it was interesting to fly solo. Supportive readers and publishers made all the difference. (2009-2011)
Some highlights – My work appeared in Michigan History magazine, the Ann Arbor Observer, The Ann Arbor Chronicle, Michigan History magazine and Crain's Detroit Business. I also did some editing at The Detroit News, copy-writing and editing for nonprofits, and spent a little time filling in as Web editor at Crain's.
The Ann Arbor News
When you stay with an organization for a dozen years, you get to wear a few hats. I served as editorial page editor and then managing editor for features. I later wrote a metro-section column and shared part of the load on the city desk. My final responsibilities included leading a public-affairs reporting team that covered more than 300 congressional, state and local candidates and issues in the 2008 election. (1997-2009)
Some highlights – Michigan Press Association and Associated Press awards for editorial writing and for opinion pages. Great work from a nine-member features staff that won awards for enterprise reporting, lifestyles pages, sustained reporting of a news event, and feature writing. Success creating short-format features, new reader-involvement projects, and The News’ first online primary-election voter guide.
Low light – The News closed July 23, 2009.
Herald-Star and Daily Times
I moved to the Ohio Valley in the mid '90s to help merge the news operations of sister papers in Steubenville, Ohio, and Weirton, W.Va. It wasn't always pretty, but the long-competing newsrooms did come together and produced zoned editions under separate nameplates. I was managing editor of the 22,000-circulation Herald-Star and the 9,000-circulation Daily Times. (1994-1997)
Some highlights – Associated Press of Ohio award for editorial writing and additional AP of Ohio and West Virginia Press Association awards for staff efforts in public service, breaking news, series, page design and business reporting. Reporting that forced reform in a local police department, focused attention on substandard urban housing and investigated lax enforcement of environmental regulations. Creation of the Herald-Star’s first website.
The Coshocton Tribune
Coshocton is a rural county in central Ohio. I had never heard of it until the publisher invited me to talk about becoming managing editor of The Tribune. But I'll certainly never forget it. With a newsroom of about a dozen, we put out a seven-day paper that grew from roughly 7,000 to 9,000 subscribers in three years. A great experience. (1990-1994)
Some highlights – AP of Ohio awards for public service, breaking news, series, enterprise reporting, page design and graphics. Two-time winner of AP of Ohio award for general excellence. We also managed to avoid any interruption in publication when a lightning strike destroyed the news department production and data-transmission equipment. Yep, destroyed.


Judy McGovern, Ann Arbor, Mich.