OUR NEWSPAPER: Adam Van Brimmer, Editorial Page Editor, the Savannah Morning News

Posted by Doreen Higgins on Oct 08, 2018
Our speaker this Wednesday morning is a seasoned newspaper reporter; for the past 30 years he has covered sports, business and governmental affairs. This past January he assumed his current position as the Editorial Page Editor of our Savannah Morning News. Adam is a true survivor in one of today’s most stressful and volatile industries, he is an opinion leader, and he seeks to increase the paper’s digital footprint and usage. His talk to us focused on a key subject for him and for our club, that is, our local schools.
Adam told us he has two children currently in our school system, and two other newspaper editorial board members also have similar close ties to the local schools. Adam said that they and the newspaper staff are “firm believers that strong schools make for strong communities. He said, “you can’t have a vibrant economy if your schools are weak, particularly in a community such as ours with a broad range of socioeconomics. This position is emphasized by his contacts among the local industry leaders who are hurting for workers. What is conspicuously lacking is men and women whose basic education enables them to qualify for a myriad of jobs in such industries as hospitality, service, and the ports. A remedy is sought by the ports system through a new partnership with the schools, and Adam expressed the hope that there will be further initiatives along these lines. He had words of praise for Superintendent Ann Levett, who is expanding apprenticeship programs and working with outside resources on workplace development and “soft” skills (on-time performance, correct dress, obeying orders, etc.)

However, Adam said, “Where we can really make a difference is in early childhood education. This is in the face of formidable local statistics – 26% poverty, 67% qualified for free or reduced price lunches – and frequently stressed out parents unable to ensure their children get a proper start. He told us that the local community seems apathetic; school board elections and public meetings addressing the millage rate are poorly attended. Adam drew our attention to the upcoming election which, he said, is in no small part about education. “The state needs to update its school funding formula, address teacher pay and retirement, investing state dollars in private school vouchers……..what should we do?”

Turning his attention back to the newspaper, Adam asked for our participation in its effort to be the community forum. The paper, he said, is “pushing hard on digital initiatives, social media engagement, podcasts and videos. He told us that our smartphones can do two things – Twitter, follow @SavannahOpinion, and subscribe to our free podcasts – launch the podcast app and look for @SavannahOpinion and Difference Makers with @SavannahOpinion. The news is updated daily. We thanked Adam for his heartfelt talk and talked with him at some length after our meeting.