Michael Kilian

Executive Editor, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle; New York State Editor, USA TODAY Network, Gannett Co. Inc. Education: Cornell University, studied journalism



Editor and Publisher



Michael Kilian’s nomination by a colleague read, “Mike is consistently the driving force behind meaningful journalism, even when obstacles are stacked in the way – a calm, positive leader in an ever-changing industry and news landscape. He leads with compassion, kindness and a focus on journalism that matters to the communities we serve and makes a difference. … Simply put, he makes each team member feel like they matter. From everyday interactions to the highestlevel strategy, Mike’s work elevates our journalists, empowering them to serve their communities with their very best work.” That is the textbook definition of an Editor Extraordinaire. What advice do you have for other young professionals who aspire to become an editor extraordinaire? The best journalism answers one question exceedingly well. An effective editor helps guide their reporters toward that framing question so that answering it might drive — but also focus — the reporting. This approach makes sense for readers but also in a business sense. We know that news subscribers, particularly in the digital space, will pay for stories that answer the “Who?”, “How?” and “Why?” questions that make stories unique and distinctive and relevant. So it is imperative that editors on the front end, without ever touching a keyboard, help ensure reporters are in pursuit of a well-crafted story. No book reports, I like to say. Just answer that one question well. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in covering government officials? Request the records. Journalists too often spend our energies chronicling the back-and-forth between government officials and politicians when our real mission is to get past the spin and hold leaders and institutions accountable. When we file FOIA requests and take the time to review the documents we receive and follow up on what they tell us, that’s when we tell the real story instead of the apparent story.