Being the editor of a newspaper means being responsible for all of the paper. Yet any honest editor will tell you it is an impossible task to see everything that goes into the paper. You cannot read every story, obituary, ball score or book review and know that they meet publishable standards.
An editor needs people he can trust. He needs people whom he can be assured will have similar exacting standards, who know how to treat people and handle the public, who have the work ethic to ensure things stay on track, who can roll with the punches and step up when things inevitably go awry.
In Faye Dasen, I had all of that — and maybe more. In my almost 10 years here, I never once worried about the Scene section or obituaries. My touch could be light because the wheel didn’t need steering; Faye, for almost 30 years, kept the course true.
By the time I arrived on the scene in March 2012, Faye was, charitably, already set in her ways. Early on I may have come to her in a brash, egocentric, I-know-better manner with some silly idea about how to “improve” coverage or “freshen” the look of the section. Faye had the good grace to tolerate me and my ideas. And then, when I was done puffing out my sail, Faye took the rope and tacked the way she had always tacked. Her course was set, and that was OK.
With a small staff, I am always terrified when anyone wants to take a vacation. I know, right? The temerity! How will the work get done? And who will do it? Yet Faye was no stranger to vacation; she took hers.
But I always knew there was a process in place so that, while Faye was gone, the tasks of Scene were fulfilled. She stayed late before vacation, working ahead. She stayed late after vacation, catching up. She was every editor’s dream and every successor’s measuring stick.
But more than just doing her job, Faye was the consummate community newspaper staffer. She talked down anxious mothers of brides to be, consoled the grieved coming to turn in an obituary, directed each lost visitor pleasantly.
And when her phone rang off the hook because we ran the wrong crossword or sudoku puzzle, she was the consummate, reassuring professional. That’s not easy, because you can commit many sins in a newspaper, but screwing up the puzzles can’t be one of them.
In the last few years, Faye was my right arm. When I took on oversight of the opinion section, I didn’t know how to design pages. I still don’t. Faye did them, and she did them without fuss or muss, other than the occasional gentle nudge if I wasn’t quite meeting her expectations. Before it was a workplace soft skill, Faye was managing up. Do not underestimate that talent.
I won’t miss Faye, because I know we’ll see her plenty, and she’s still going to do “Out and About” and book reviews. But I will miss her work, her smile, her gentle cackle, her institutional knowledge, her connection to a Pilot past that is mostly legend now.
In some ways, it was like working with your mom; she was the last person I wanted to disappoint. I hope I never did.
While it will be difficult to replace all that Faye brought to The Pilot and her many roles, we are fortunate to have filled her position with Laura Douglass, who has been a staff writer in our newsroom these last six years.
If there’s anyone in this newsroom who could begin to rival Faye for people she knows — or who know her — it would be Laura. Whether it was as a community reporter for The Seven Lakes Times, as a local Girl Scouts executive and leader or her work with The Pilot, Laura is one of those people that people gravitate to. She is a natural listener and talker and passionate about helping people and telling stories, which makes her an ideal community journalist.
You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (910) 693-2475.