CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Veteran Metro/Neighbors photographer, page designer and contributing writer Robert Saunders has been named Charleston Newspapers' Metro Department Community News/Special Sections editor.
Saunders replaces Diane Wallace, who retired earlier this month after more than 40 years with Charleston Newspapers.
"I was hired by Diane as Metro's staff photographer when I started here in 1991," Saunders said. "She's been a great mentor for me over the years. She's really not replaceable."
Saunders said he is "looking forward to improving our coverage of local issues and local sports, which has been our brand," and "getting our websites back up and running, with improved Web functionality" through a new operating system Charleston Newspapers is phasing in, starting with Metro.
After earning a master's degree in journalism at Marshall University, Saunders worked part-time for the Huntington Herald-Dispatch before joining Charleston Newspapers' Metro department. The move proved to be a good fit for both Metro and its new employee.
"This is my first and only fulltime job," said Saunders, who quickly discovered he had "a passion for community journalism. People in the places we cover always respond favorably when they see our photographers and reporters out covering an event."
Saunders and his staff produce weekly editions of Metro Putnam, Kanawha Valley Neighbors East, Kanawha Valley Neighbors West and Pulse, a two-page insert with local news, entertainment, recipes and other useful information.
In addition to their weekly products, the four-person Metro staff produces nearly 40 special sections and tabs annually, including Kanawha City Magazine, the Kanawha Valley Clipper and the West Side Guide. Once-a-year tabs produced by Saunders and his crew include Spring Home & Garden, Back to School, FestivALL, Graduation, Dance, Fall Home Improvement, Rod Run & Doo Wop and Outdoor Pursuits.
Since coming to Charleston Newspapers, Saunders has taken part in two Poynter Institute workshops on page design, which he said helped him sharpen his page-building skills.
"When I first came here as a photographer, I didn't have a computer -- only the reporters got them," the new editor said. "Technology began to change almost as soon as I got mine."
During his free time, Saunders, a member of Trout Unlimited, likes to fly fish for native trout. He has also biked the Greenbrier River Trail from Lewisburg to Marlinton.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelham...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.