Interview with the Editor: Ramblings and Insights of Dennis Rymarz

Being based at what is primarily a two-year institution of higher learning, the Mirror News roll call is a list in some state of flux from semester to semester, and this semester is no different. Actually, it is different because we have undergone a major revamping, and many key staff positions are held by fresh faces with even fresher ideas. Not only “fresh” as in new, but as in, yes, our favorite prince of Bel-Air. The experience and the energy provided by the recent additions to our team can be thanked for the new and improved look. We’re back, we’re bigger, and we promise to get even better. No one more firmly believes that this promise can be fulfilled than the new leader of the pack.

Meet Dennis Rymarz, the new editor-in-chief.

Dennis is a recent edition to the school newspaper, but neither school nor the newspaper industry is new to his life. He first attended Schoolcraft Community College in the 80s to study business, but his life took a different path. In the time since, he has been a stand-up comedian, marketing consultant, an entrepreneur, a freelance writer, and an independent publisher. Now, though, he says of he and his wife (who has also returned to school), “We’re kind of reinventing ourselves. It means looking back and saying, ‘Okay, I tried that.’”

Even as the times are a-changin’, Dennis has wound up back in print. This is far from his first time. He has a writing resume that could be neatly described as intimidating. In the field of journalism alone he has had bylines in the Heritage and Times Herald newspapers, worked for a Detroit magazine, and started three publications of his own. The first, The Detroit Sports Review, was a razor sharp peek at the behind-the-scenes happenings of major Motor City teams, and he followed that with a satirical paper called Don’t Tip the Waiter that took a big bite out of the restaurant industry. His most recent venture was Dearborn Alternative News, another satire that took the spirit of Waiter and expanded it outside of a niche into a look at an alternate reality of Dearborn.

Now that we’ve established that he is not fresh off the boat, let’s get into how he came to be on this boat. Serendipity was possibly in play when he met our former editor-in-chief in a class the two shared and found out that the position would soon be available. So, for all the great things for which we can thank our former editor, we can also thank him for encouraging his replacement to apply.

Looking into the job, Dennis determined that it encompassed all of the things he had liked most about working in journalism, but the addition of the staff make-up eliminated the parts he’d found tedious.

“I kind of knew what went into it; I had that experience. When I looked into this particular job, I was like, ‘Wow.’ There are so many things about it that are similar to things I really like, and the things I didn’t really enjoy about having my own newspaper… for the Mirror News, those things are already done,” he explained, and he does not neglect to make clear how grateful he is for the people that do them.

This newspaper is a team effort, and it is an all-inclusive one. If you are interested, you are in. It really is as simple as that. As the official Cub Scout leader, Dennis has to work with an ever-expanding web of people who are all at varying levels of experience. He has to walk a fine line between making sure he gives the constructive criticism that builds better writers and keeping those that are just starting out from feeling too discouraged or intimidated to continue. While this can sometimes be a daunting task, he never runs out of things to say about how much he loves that every issue is the combined product of a myriad of different talents doing what they do best.

“[It’s] synergy. It’s just amazing to me, this process. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

He takes it seriously, and all he asks of his staff is that we do as well. What he’s aiming for is a great paper that will be a source of information for those that read it and a learning experience for those of us contributing to it. He said, “We have an obligation to ourselves and to our community to do this, to let people know what’s going on. The biggest difference we can make is getting people aware.”

Dennis isn’t worried about failing in that task, though. At least not, according to him, with the people he has backing him up. He seemingly never runs out of beaming things to say about the rest of the paper’s staff (the author’s ego increased three times in size during the course of her interview with him, she is ashamed to admit) or, indeed, anyone he knows. Really. If you’re ever feeling down, just have him introduce you to someone. You’ll start wishing you could meet whatever utterly brilliant person he’s describing right before he says your name and you realize he was speaking about you. I’d say he’s a great guy even if he wasn’t my boss, and I’m not the only one.

His involvement with campus activity does not end with the paper. Dennis is a major contributor to the school’s radio station as well and, after a stint subbing for a DJ, pitched a show called Campus Connection with co-host, Lynsey Flynn. It is on the air the second Tuesday of every month from 1– 2 p.m., and draws attention to events and news at HFCC that are also relevant to the outside community. “At the same time,” he said, “we can talk about things going on in the community and how they relate to the campus.”

Having known him for three years, his co-host Lynsey describes him as being “always full of positive energy, which makes him a delight to work with.”

Dennis, along with Amy E. Powers, backs host Jay Korinek on The New WHFR Journal every Friday from 1 – 2 p.m. It is “local news with alternative views,” and there is nothing about the experience that Dennis doesn’t enjoy. “Working with Jay has been one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. I’ve learned a lot from him, and from Amy. Amy’s incredible. She brings an insight that, to me, is very unique.”

Amy, who works with Dennis as the Mirror News copy editor in addition to their radio connection, speaks just as highly of him: “Dennis is professional and very dedicated to the work he does, whether it is in newspaper or radio. He has the rare ability to bring out the best in the people he works with, usually with humor, but always to create the best finished product.”

If it seems that there are an uncanny number of awesome things to say about this man, try not to assume that it is all because he threatened the writer or edited out the juicy stuff. He actually is fairly awesome, (not so) secret affinity for Gilmore Girls and all. Catch him here in the paper and over the airwaves while you can, because he’s working on getting a book published, and it might not be long before he is off the news racks, on the best sellers’ list, and fielding my calls begging for a loan/interview/job.