DeBow

Matt DeBow

I am excited to be the new Managing Editor of The Stillwater Gazette. I started here on Monday, and while I’m still getting my feet wet with this new role and am learning what it will take to produce this particular paper each week, I can already tell that Stillwater is a special place.

I have walked through downtown Stillwater a couple of times already, and I see it’s a vibrant and beautiful city. I have also admired the historic lift bridge, and I plan on crossing over to Wisconsin soon.

I’m originally from Oregon, and I was drawn to Minnesota when I visited last August to marry my beautiful wife who grew up in a suburb of the Twin Cities. Last summer was a great time to explore East Central Minnesota, and I fit in perfectly.

Unfortunately, last year’s Minnesota stay only lasted a month as my wife had accepted a post-doctoral psychologist position at the University of Tennessee’s Center of Excellence for Children in State Custody and we had to move south for the year.

After arriving in Tennessee, I worked as the crime and courts reporter for the Daily Times in Maryville covering all crime-related news for surrounding Blount County. That job changed drastically after the pandemic hit, and every reporter — including the sports department reporters — covered something related to the new coronavirus.

While living in Tennessee, my wife and I found many fantastic barbecue joints (many stayed open with curbside pickup).

You couldn’t drive anywhere without seeing a sign for barbecue, a meat smoker on the sidewalk and the smell of slow-cooked meats permeating the air. However, the excellent culinary delights weren’t enough to keep us there and we longed to return north.

When I got a call about a potential job here, I told my wife it was in Stillwater and she told me she loves the city of Stillwater and there are many fun events occurring each year on which to report. Now, having been here a few days, I see what she was talking about. While those events may look different this year (or were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic), I’m still excited to see how Stillwater recovers safely, and how events such as Lumberjack Days will return next year.

As for my journalism career, I started working as a reporter for the Lebanon Express, a small weekly newspaper in Oregon, in 2011, shortly after I earned my degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. In Lebanon, I covered everything from the controversies on city council to what school board members thought was best for the students — and sometimes even reported on a nonprofit’s bake sale or the local middle school’s production of “Shrek, The Musical.”

I took the reigns of the Express in 2014 when I was promoted to Managing Editor. As editor, I put an emphasis on online content and engaging readers on social media. I kept building on the Express’ legacy until 2018 when I moved on to a larger publication as a reporter for The Outlook, a twice weekly newspaper in the Portland, Oregon metro. There I covered three small cities within the metro. I am looking forward to taking my experiences with those publications and applying them to the Stillwater Gazette’s 150 years of journalism excellence in Minnesota.

I am glad that I am furthering my journalism career in the Upper Midwest and living in Minnesota.

On Monday shortly after starting, I received a call and was asked where I was coming from. When I responded Tennessee, the caller said “Oh, so we can convince you to become a Minnesotan.” Well, I was already convinced.

Contact Matt DeBow at matt.debow@apgecm.com

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