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Editor Maria Hess on Producing Delaware Today’s October Issue

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This issue is illustrative of the talents of the editorial staff I am privileged to lead. 

The October offering is challenging, largely because we set the bar high to produce the annual Top Doctors feature

First, we designed a survey based on concepts derived from the American Medical Association. We sent letters to every doctor who was a member of the Medical Society of Delaware. After the doctors submitted their votes, we tabulated them in-house, and several editors reviewed those findings for accuracy. We also offered a readers poll, and invited you via Facebook and delawaretoday.com to vote for doctors you deemed worthy. 

Senior writer Mark Nardone did the mailing, researching and writing. (His story on Dr. Nicholas Petrelli and the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center and Research Institute is worth your consideration.) Once the feature was written, managing editor Drew Ostroski edited and oversaw the rest of the process; staff photographer Ron Dubick took the photos; and art director Beth Weiss designed the feature. Assistant art director Susan Kilcoyne was busy designing Delaware Bride­—one of our three ancillary magazines—but managed to assist Beth with numerous projects. This year, we were lucky to have Krista Harder intern for us, and she helped proof the listings. We can’t wait to see Krista’s name in lights one day. Thanks for everything, Krista, and the best of luck at UD.

I’d also like to thank Dr. Petrelli for allowing us to photograph him for our cover. The session took a lot of time out of his busy day, but we hope he’s happy with the results. 

This issue also features the 2013-2014 Arts Preview. I’m asked often why we do this in October, as opposed to September, when some of the arts festivals take place. The theater season starts essentially in October, for one. Also, we assign features four months out, and arts administrators don’t have seasons confirmed that early. Producing a list for September wouldn’t provide the best service for our readers. This way, you get the best season highlights, and Delaware’s arts organizations get the most ink. That said, writer Amy Kates produces a substantive arts calendar every month.

I don’t have time to write stories like I used to as senior editor, but I try to write at least one a year. I offer “In the Shadow of the Steeple,” a profile of Brother Ronald Giannone, the founder and executive director of the Ministry of Caring. 

I must thank the ministry’s development director Priscilla Rakestraw for the headline. She told me she wanted to write a book by the same name. I was immediately taken with it—so I took it—the minute Priscilla gave me permission.

The feature would not have been possible without the people who shared their stories. I interviewed countless staffers and observed a legion of volunteers—many of whom never made it into the piece. I’m sorry about that, but we’re limited on space. Those I met throughout this journey seemed to share the ideology articulated famously by Brother Ronald: that the poor shall not be treated poorly. 

I want to formally thank Brother Ronald for his openness; Brother Miguel Ramirez for spending time with me at the Emmanuel Dining Room; Cory Cunningham for the bravery it took to tell his story; Sister Pat Kereszi for allowing me into Sacred Heart Village and sharing her vast knowledge; and Brother Robert Perez for inviting me to peek in on his meeting at House of Joseph II. I am most grateful to Mother Luz for permitting us to photograph the cloistered Capuchin Poor Clares. (Visit capuchinpoorclares.org to learn how the sisters left their families in Mexico to serve the Ministry of Caring. It’s a poignant story.) And again, I thank Priscilla Rakestraw, who answered every question and attended every photo shoot. Clearly, she is committed in a profound way to the ministry, and I wish her continued success. 

I hope you’ll enjoy the issue.

» For more from the October Issue, click here.