City Weekly publisher John Saltas and Editor Jerre Wroble go back 10 years. Wroble was hired in 2003 as a copy editor and is departing the paper this week for new adventures. This is Saltas’ remembrance of her time with the paper.
What impact did Jerre have on the paper?
Excluding me, there have been six editors. And you can kind of break them into eras. Tom Walsh was the first. He was the one who kind of established our voice. Chris Smart elevated our voice. Both those guys were good, old-style journalists who cared about news—they came directly from a news background. The era that Jerre was in was the one where the newspaper industry wasn’t as easy. And she’s had to work within tighter budgets and keep our face out there in a positive way—she’s really good at that. Her era is one where many newspapers cratered, and we didn’t—because we had a strong editor in there. Those three are our standout editors.
Do you have a standout memory of Jerre?
[As John pauses to think, Jerre’s laugh rings out from the next room, where she’s talking with reporter Eric Peterson about a cover story.] Well, what you just now heard, her laughing through the door—even when she was delivered bad news, two seconds later, she’d be laughing. She always made her point, told management what she thought, and then dropped it, or compartmentalized it, or whatever. But she never carried it into the next day—next minute, even. She was on to something else, and that’s the way it was.
Jerre has been one of the employees at City Weekly who will be long remembered because she got along with everybody. Jerre was always at the parades. Jerre was at all of our parties. Jerre was at our events. She supported things that were outside of her editorial mission. And that’s really a rare trait for an editor. She knew that what was best for the paper was best for her and her department. And she supported every aspect of it.
What were your thoughts when she told you her plan?
Now it can be told. Jerre had planned an exit at least once, maybe twice, before. Myself and Jim Rizzi sat in the room and said, “This can’t happen. We’re not letting her go. No fucking way.” That’s really what we said to each other. We talked Jerre into staying. Jerre was just good, and we wanted her to stay. But at a certain point, you do have to say, “All right, time to leave,” if that’s what a person wants. All of us are replaceable, to some degree, but some fit the pattern of, “Yeah, they’re replaceable but we’d rather not, and we’ll do anything to keep them.” And Jerre stayed. Even though we didn’t necessarily make her life better, she did stay, and that was a big sacrifice for her, I’m sure. I guess now this time, it’s time for Jerre, and it’s going to be good for Jerre. And I would rather know she’s happy doing something than not happy doing this. She never expressed to me that she’s unhappy here, at all, but it’s just time for her next adventure.
No. I think that Jerre, like Tom 15 years ago, and Chris, same—they knew their life course, I couldn’t tell them what to do. All three of them I mentioned, and Jerre especially—they’re mature people who know what they want, and they’re gonna get it. There’s not a lot of advice you can give someone who has scars up and down their arms like many of us—a veteran. She’s going where she wants to go. And she’ll do well where she wants to go.