Frank Pine has always adopted a hands-on approach to learning and leading.
As a part-time manager of Coco’s Restaurant & Bakery during college, he learned to take orders, manage the restaurant’s inventory and crack an egg with one hand. At Cal Poly Pomona, he was editor of Portfolio, a nonfiction anthology sponsored by the English department, and solicited manuscripts, proofed copy, and typed pages after pages of text.
Pine’s newspaper career in the Inland Empire follows a similar path. He made an effort to learn all aspects of the industry, from editing copy to interviewing police officers to designing pages. In fact, his willingness to step in and lend a hand is one of his leadership trademarks.
“You should be able to do the things you’re overseeing. But also, you should be willing to do those things,” says Pine, editor and general manager of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and executive editor of the San Bernardino Sun and Redlands Daily Facts.
After graduating from Cal Poly Pomona in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in English, Pine landed a job as a copy editor at the Bulletin. He remembers telling the interviewer: “I want to work with words. Making nice sentences – that sounds like fun to me.”
Over the next few years, Pine moved from copy editing to designing pages for the features section to becoming an assistant editor of the newspaper’s weekly publications. Recognizing his leadership potential, his supervisors then asked him to step in as assistant city editor and help manage about five reporters. Because he had limited field experience, Pine requested to first work as a reporter for a year before moving up the ranks.
“He thought he needed some reporting under his belt, that it would help him be a better editor,” says David Allen, a longtime columnist for the Bulletin. “It added some credibility that he would want to take the initiative to be in the trenches. It’s easier to ask things of people once you’ve done it yourself and you know what’s possible and what’s not possible.”
Pine’s crime reporting duties lasted just nine months before he was tapped as interim features editor, but he demonstrated his enthusiasm for learning, thoroughness and a hands-on leadership style.
The business operations of the Inland Empire newspapers consume his day-to-day responsibilities, but Pine still finds time – and enjoyment – in reading and correcting stories, offering his editorial opinion and designing pages, if necessary.
In January, Pine started writing a weekly column, commenting on local politics, current events, behind-the-scenes insights and the future of the newspapers. Navigating the world of digital communications, online journalism and mobile readers is an especially exciting challenge for Pine, who believes that newspapers can amplify their influence through the Internet.
“The days when a single newspaper was the go-to source for information, or when there were just handful of channels to choose from on the tube, are gone. We're now in a world of infinite possibility and opportunity,” Pine wrote in July.
Once an article is published online, it has the potential to go viral: Bloggers reference and comment on it, TV reporters use it for leads, aggregate news sites such as Google News collect and repackage it, and readers share and discuss it through email, Facebook, Twitter and face to face. Newspapers haven’t lost their relevancy, but they need to develop a successful business model around the emerging technologies. It’s a challenge that Pine, a technology enthusiast, already has his hands on.
“What the newspaper does is important. We’re chronicling events in the now, and we’re also making a record for history,” Pine says. “It’s up to us to be there when something important happens and record it. Our culture will always need someone who will do that.”
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