A letter from The Gazette’s editor to the town
For 26 years, The Gazette prided itself on delivering excellent local news coverage for Hammonton. The Gazette’s founder and publisher Gabriel J. Donio and editor-in-chief Gina Rullo Donio held down the fort and made the newspaper go from a ten-page newspaper in its first issue on July 2, 1997 to a consistent 60-120 page paper.
On June 19, 2023, both Gabe and Gina announced their retirement as publisher and editor-in-chief, respectively. Words cannot express how much they have meant to the community for providing accurate and efficient news coverage. Their efforts and contribution will not go unnoticed as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.
I joined The Gazette as a staff writer on November 1, 2022. I still remember the nerves that I felt as walking up the ramp of the building that day. Just like any new job on the first day, you feel nervous because it’s a new environment that I was coming into.
From coming into the town as a relatively unknown person, I was able to establish myself to various people through interactions at events and meetings that I’ve covered.
From there, I was able to not only grow as a journalist but as a person. The month of November was quite a transition. I went from not writing a single thing, besides restaurant orders as a server, since I graduated from Rowan University in December 2020 to writing plenty of articles and stories per week in a consistent and timely manner.
Fast forward to June 2023, both Gabe and Gina announced that they were retiring and that they approached me with the opportunity to take over as editor for the newspaper. I’ll be honest with you: I was not expecting the news, both the retirement and the opening.
I was pretty content with my role as a staff writer. I envisioned myself writing features and then transitioning to possibly sports. I didn’t see myself taking on a leadership role, even though I had experience being a section editor at Rowan’s newspaper, The Whit. Frankly, I didn’t think I was worthy of the position because I felt there were some things I needed to clean up.
If it weren’t for both Gabe and Gina constantly believing in me and Gina always going out of her way to make me a better writer, I wouldn’t have the confidence to say “why not” and throw my name into the list of candidates for the position. When I was told I got the position, it didn’t feel real at the time, to the point where I had to hang up on them and take some time to gather my thoughts. I just thought “no way I got this position?” Even though it’s been a week, I still can’t believe I’m sitting here and making sure the paper looks solid.
What caught me by surprise was the people who have gotten to know me extending their congratulations and believing that I’m the right man for the job. It’s certainly big shoes to fill but I’m ready to take on the challenge of continuing to provide the best local news coverage in town while also adding some things that can make it stand out more. I thank everyone who personally reached out and congratulating me because now, I have the utmost confidence to continue the transition while striving to make the newspaper the best it has ever been.
I still carry the lessons taught to me not only from Gabe and Gina but also from my experience of working on assignments for my journalism classes as well as The Whit in addition to a high school journalism course I took during my sophomore year at Egg Harbor Township High School taught by Denise Steet, who deserves a shoutout for helping me realize I wanted to pursue this as a career.
I look forward to continue working on bringing light to what’s happening around the town as well as any events that anyone has. My goal is to not only make this paper better but to also be the best editor I could be to my staff of writers. The biggest compliment I could hope to receive is being told that I am a great leader, mentor and teacher. Even when I’m not worthy of such compliments, it motivates me to continue to be better.
I have the support of my colleagues, Publisher Keith Dawn, Sports Editor Dan Russoman, Lead Graphic Designer MarySusan Hoffman and Copy Editor Jaime Wuillermin. It was a joy watching them handle this transition period with grace and I hope we continue what we have done.
If you’d like to reach out to me with any questions or ideas, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. I thank you all and I am honored to be this newspaper’s editor.
Let’s get the ball rolling!
Mohammed Fuad is the editor of The Hammonton Gazette.