The Dispatch has a new editor, but her name will be familiar to many longtime readers.
Garthia Elena Halbert-Burnett has been promoted to managing editor, after serving the paper and community in almost every writing capacity, from intern to staff reporter to news editor — a position she has held for the past three years.
The role of managing editor is not a new one for the Columbus native. She previously served The Dispatch as acting managing editor in 2009 and again since May following the departure of then-managing editor Steve Mullen.
“We are delighted to have Garthia in the managing editor’s chair,” Dispatch Publisher Birney Imes said Saturday. “She is, after all, one of our own, having began her newspaper career in our newsroom as a student intern.”
Her understanding of the community and its issues, along with her deep roots in Columbus, are an asset to the paper, he said.
“Garthia’s knowledge of the community, devotion to the purposes of journalism and admirable work ethic made her the obvious choice for the position,” Imes said.
“It sounds a little grandiose, I know,” she said Saturday. “But when you think about it, journalism does more than just inform us. It helps us shape the world we live in. … It tells us about ourselves, about the community and country we live in. It helps us sort through our feelings when we don’t know how to feel. It tells us how others are feeling about the same things, and that it’s OK. It gives us all a voice.”
As far as plans for the future of the Dispatch’s news coverage, she listed an immediate goal of focusing on more local content.
“We can get national news from any and everywhere,” she said. “Getting to the heart of the community and the things that matter locally is where I think our best contribution is, and we can do that even better.”
“I want the community to know the people who put out this newspaper are passionate about what they do,” she continued. “We all care a great deal about the communities we serve and the product we put out. (Saturday) is a perfect illustration of that. The newsroom is full, and half of us are supposed to be off (work) today.”
Previous news experience includes writing for state and national publications and working as a neighborhoods reporter for The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
She received her bachelor’s degree in communication, with a minor in music, from Mississippi University for Women.
She is the daughter of retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Garther Halbert and Maria Halbert of Columbus.
She is married to Micah Burnett, who teaches fifth-grade math at Belle Elementary School in Aberdeen. The couple has three children: Kyla, 7; Seth, 2; and one-month-old Levi.
Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.