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New editor: Help me learn the Florida way

MONICA HERNDON   |   Times Sig shot of Karen Peterson Tampa Bay Times North Suncoast Editor photographed in the Tampa studio on December 28, 2017.
MONICA HERNDON | Times Sig shot of Karen Peterson Tampa Bay Times North Suncoast Editor photographed in the Tampa studio on December 28, 2017.
Published Jan. 19, 2018

It was one more reminder of how much I have to learn about this place.

The reporter met me as I came back from lunch on one of the many cold days we've had recently. She'd received a tip about a snook kill in Hernando Beach. Did I think we should write a story about it?

I stood staring back at her, wondering if I had heard her correctly. What on earth, I asked, was a snook?

The reporter smiled and explained it to me. She and her colleagues have enlightened me on several Florida quirks since I started last month as the North Suncoast editor for the Tampa Bay Times.

I'm blessed to join newsrooms in Pasco and Hernando counties that are staffed with folks steeped in local knowledge and committed to serving these important communities.

My husband and I have traveled to this area for several years to visit family.

In 2016, we bought a house in Brooksville with plans to winter here in retirement. Last fall, we decided to move here permanently.

I'm excited to join the Times team and to share what I've learned in more than 30 years in the local news business. I'm also having fun learning about this area.

One of my favorite things about being an Army wife for 21 years was discovering the hidden treasures of every new place we called home.

Born and raised on a farm in Michigan, I married my soldier husband after graduating from college in Kalamazoo. Off we went to Kentucky, Georgia, Washington, Germany, Indiana, Hawaii and Washington again, before he retired from the military.

Along the way we raised two boys, and I grew a journalism career. Most recently, I served as editor of The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash.

While the newspapers and locations varied, I came to believe that the role of any local news organization is to help make a community a better place to live.

It should highlight what's going well, and point out what needs improvement. It should share stories of people you know or might like to know. It should dig deeper into matters you care about and hold those in power accountable.

And it should provide information about this place that you can't get anywhere else.

We don't have enough reporters to cover every story, but we'll try to apply our resources wisely.

We can't know everything that's happening, so we'll ask you to be our reporters, too. Please call or send an email with your story tip or idea.

We will cover this region with affection and determination because we live here ourselves.

I look forward to meeting many of you in the weeks and months ahead.

And in case you don't know, a snook is a fish that lives in coastal waterways. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, snook make "excellent table fare." They cannot, however, tolerate water temperatures below 60 degrees, hence the recent die off.

We decided the kill wasn't widespread enough to warrant a story, but the tip led us to the interesting tale about turtles on today's front page.

We hope you enjoy it.

Contact Karen Peterson at (727)893-8082 or kpeterson@tampabay.com. Or follow @TimesKPeterson.

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