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Enterprise reporter will fill dormant NCCC communications director position

August 7, 2017
By AARON CERBONE - For the News (news@lakeplacidnews.com) , Lake Placid News

SARANAC LAKE - North Country Community College is hiring a new director of communications, and the Adirondack Daily Enterprise is losing an award-winning reporter.

Chris Knight will leave his Saranac Lake beat, but he won't leave his notepad and AP Stylebook behind. Knight will fill the long-dormant position at NCCC, telling the stories of students and the college they attend.

The position has not been filled in recent years as a finance-saving move, but college President Steve Tyrell said administrators have wanted to bring the position back. This year, after faculty and staff looked at a list of positions to fund again - and with suggestions from county legislators - the college once again has someone to tell its stories.

Article Photos

Adirondack Daily Enterprise Senior Staff Writer Chris Knight, far left, and other reporters ask questions of Gov. Andrew Cuomo in November 2013 at the Conference Center at Lake Placid.
(File photo)

The director of communications controls half of the marketing efforts of the college. While recruitment marketing handles advertising and outreach, college marketing focuses on the college's identity, building a human message and a consistent brand.

Faculty and staff have handled college marketing for the past few years, but the need for a full-time position has become evident recently.

"I think sometimes there are populations that don't know that there are people just like them going to college every day, but they don't think they are eligible," Tyrell said.

This is not the first time Knight has written about NCCC. In 2015 and 2016, he produced a 10-part investigative series, highlighting a major breakdown between faculty, staff and administration at the college. These articles featured employees from within the college harshly criticizing Tyrell, who had recently become president. Tyrell says he understands the job of a journalist and since Knight already knows so much about the college, is excited to bring him onto the staff.

"He is a highly credible reporter and has a great reputation in the region," Tyrell said. "He is very good at getting to know people and finding the human side of the story."

First coming to the Adirondacks with the SUNY Geneseo outing club, Knight fell in love with the active and outdoor lifestyle of the North Country. Knight made beds, served meals and ran the information booth at the Adirondak Loj outside Lake Placid before working in national parks in New Hampshire and Hawaii. He made his way back to the Adirondacks to be an assistant forest ranger in the High Peaks Wilderness, and after the summer work season ended, he did not want to leave the area he enjoyed so much.

With DJ experience and an English degree, in 2001 Knight became the news director for WNBZ-AM and Mountain Communications' other radio stations based in Saranac Lake. There he found a new love for journalism.

"When I took over, there had been a bit of a lull in local news coverage. A lot of it was just rip and read from the papers," Knight said. "What I did was just started being a reporter. I went to meetings. I went to events. I would call people and interview them."

After nearly eight years at the station, he transitioned to print journalism at the Enterprise, putting in eight more years of investigating, interviewing and storytelling. Knight won numerous state level awards for his reporting on a slew of topics from every corner of journalism. Being awarded for both his investigative and feature work and receiving recognition for reporting on everything from health to business.

"The stories I like the most have always been the ones that take some element of the really unique history of this area and bring it to people in the present day," Knight said.

Highlights he mentioned include the reuniting of a firefighter with a girl who jumped from a burning hotel into his arms in 1964, covering local Olympians competing in Sochi, Russia, and a 10-part investigative series on NCCC.

Now Knight wants to tell the story of NCCC - promoting its programs, education and history - because, although he brought problems within the college to light, he believes it is an important institution for the North Country and wants it to succeed.

"At the same time, the day-to-day work of faculty educating students there, students taking advantage of some amazing opportunities, and what their stories are, that wasn't being told," Knight said.

Having reported on NCCC for a long time, he knows people at the college, understands the tensions of the past and likes the look of its future.

Knight, who has often battled public relations staffers in his past 16 years of reporting, is changing hats and using his journalistic past to represent the college.

"It gave me the knowledge that I know what a valuable asset the college is to the community, to the North Country," Knight said.

As enrollment numbers have struggled in past years, Knight hopes to leave his stamp on the communications position by showcasing the benefits of attending a community college.

"Some people might not think of a two-year institution to start off their post-high school career, but if they took a look at it and saw how affordable it is, and it is right in their own home community, they can use it as a jumping-off point to other success," Knight said.

Knight's last day in the newsroom is Aug. 11, and as he starts at NCCC the first week of September, he says he will miss the atmosphere of a journalism-based workplace.

"There is a lot of camaraderie and spirit to being in a newsroom of people like this that are driven by the same goals," Knight said, "wanting to get the truth out, wanting to uncover what's covered, to hold our public officials accountable and tell the really interesting stories of the people in these communities."

Knight, who never truly left radio, has freelanced for NCPR, Saranac Lake's NPR station, bringing stories he had worked on in print to the airwaves. As Knight moves from writing news articles to press releases, his voice will also be missing from another of the North's Country's main sources for news.

"Losing a reporter like Chris is sort of like losing a really good small town doctor," Adirondack Bureau Chief at NCPR Brian Mann said. "A lot of knowledge and information and memory goes, but you also lose a lot of compassion and care. Chris really loves the Adirondacks and Saranac Lake and it came through in every story."

Publisher of the Enterprise, Catherine Moore spoke highly of Knight's eight years of work at the Enterprise, mentioning his focused, no-nonsense attitude and accurate reporting, which she has never heard a single complaint about.

"He's everything you want in a journalist," Moore said.

 
 

 

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