For the first time in decades the Antigo Daily Journal has a new permanent editor at the helm.
Kevin Passon, a Shawano native, comes to the Journal from Monona, where he served as managing editor at The Herald Independent-and McFarland Thistle. The weekly publication covers three communities in Monona, Cottage Grove and McFarland, providing local news to the area’s population of just over 20,000 residents.
Passon assumed his duties Monday, including a meet-and-greet tour with community dignitaries, courtesy of retired editor Lisa Haefs.
Haefs assumed the editor duties following the passing of Fred Berner in November and retired on August 1.
According to Haefs, Passon was selected for the position following a careful recruitment process.
“Kevin comes to us from a sister publication operated by Adams Publishing Group, so he already knows quite a few of the systems that are being put in place here in the next few weeks,” she said.
“More importantly, he has a demonstrated commitment to local news,” she added. “He understands the importance of the Antigo Daily Journal to the community and is committed to preserving 116 years of tradition while moving toward a bright future.”
Passon echoed those sentiments.
“I’m excited for this opportunity,” he said. “I’ve always been a firm believer that every paper belongs to the community itself and I am simply a steward to guide them through the time I am there. My goal is to make us the best newspaper we can be. We will reflect what our community is and hopefully people like what they read.”
Passon spent six years in Monona and has over 20 years experience prior, working for newspapers in Waupun, Beaver Dam and Oconomowoc, serving as everything from reporter to editor and publisher.
The St. Norbert College grad was a history major in school, but wrote for both his high school and then college newspaper. He began as a freelance reporter in Waupun through a bit of connection.
“As I tell people it was my sister-in-law’s, cousin’s, best friend’s, husband who was the publisher of the paper in Waupun,” he explained. “They needed a reporter. I got back into journalism and I never left.”
The move also carries with it an opportunity he and his wife could not resist, a return home to the northwoods.
“We both have relatives in the area and friends,” he said. “We decided if the opportunity was here to come back up north we would, it was a transfer for me so that worked out well, I am looking forward to reconnecting and being with people we know, some old friends from high school have already reached out to me.”
As far as settling into his new role, the similarities between his new home and his hometown will certainly aide in the transition.
“Shawano and Antigo are similar communities in size and have a lot of things in common,” he noted. “It will be fun to reacquaint myself with the people and places.”
And for Antigo it’s an opportunity for an experienced and talented newsman to continue a long standing tradition of editorial excellence.