Extol Winter 2021 | Page 26

WHEN SHEA VAN HOY travels the streets of Louisville and Southern Indiana , he sees stories .
Most folks might not pay close attention to the paper taped to a grocery store door or some new remodeling on a vacant building . But with more than a two-decade career in journalism , Shea understands the meaning behind these measures . And as Editor-In-Chief of Louisville Business First , the 46-year-old translates these curiosities into reliable , informational articles for his readers .
“ I ’ m always looking for a story ,” Shea said . “ Say , I see a sign that I know is an alcoholic beverage permit sign on a business across the street . You know I ’ m going across the street to find out the name of the business so we can chase down the story , and hopefully get it before someone else .”
Inquisitiveness is innate to the Mitchell , Ind . native . Beginning in his teens , Shea found an interest in the school ’ s newspaper and yearbook . In a nod to famous Hoosier David Letterman , the budding writer would construct humorous Top Ten lists alongside other colorful features . But after graduating from Mitchell High School in 1993 , he decided to pursue a degree in business at Ball State University . An economics class his sophomore year changed his mind , and he switched to journalism instead .
In all his career , Shea has only worked in media . After his Ball State graduation , the 18-year-old joined the Kokomo Tribune , first as an intern , then as a full-time page designer , an experience that allowed him to value how information is conveyed . Eventually , he began to report again for then-managing editor Steve Kozarovich . Steve also introduced Shea to business writing .
“ I could see the way he was a creative writer , which was great ,” said Steve , who is now senior account director at PriceWeber Marketing . “ His stories were never dull . He was a smart guy who knew what questions to ask . He was curious , which was great for journalists . And he seemed to just get it .”
In 2005 , Shea took his journalistic acumen to a paper in Fayetteville , Ark ., where he was the senior business reporter . Eighteen months later , Steve , then a publisher , offered him a job back home in Indiana at the soon-to-be combined New Albany Tribune and The Evening News . Learning from those in leadership roles before him , he remained editor of the Southern Indiana newspaper , News and Tribune , for more than a decade .
“ I ’ ve literally never had a bad boss in journalism ,” Shea said . “ How the hell do I get that lucky ?”
While he oversaw coverage of major happenings , such as the 2012 Henryville tornadoes , Shea ’ s favorite event he ever covered was Jeffersonville ’ s trip to the 2008 Little League World Series . Through his reporting , he witnessed the skills of future Arizona Diamondback third baseman Drew Ellis and other young players .
“ A guy that I covered in the Little League World Series is now in the major leagues , which is pretty awesome ,” Shea , a lifelong baseball fan , said . In his down time , his mission is to visit each and every of the 30 major league ballparks . Just this year alone he ’ s knocked off three more .
In 2016 , Shea switched gears . Lisa Benson , the then editor in chief of Louisville Business First needed a managing editor for the publication she oversaw and had heard about Shea ’ s success with the News and Tribune . She asked him to lunch to discuss possibilities .
“ I just got a really great feeling about Shea . He has this way of kind of bringing you in and making you feel comfortable ,” Lisa said . “ I knew right away that I wanted to hire him for the managing editor position .”
When Lisa moved to publisher of the news outlet in 2019 , Shea became editor in chief , a job he continues to hold .
“ Shea has this really great combination of creativity and intelligence and really solid news judgments ,” Lisa said . “ And he also has this really consistently positive attitude and communication style which is a powerful and rare thing I think in the news business … . He ’ s very empathetic and really does a great job in situations where there are two sides at odds , and people need to come together .”
Helping to bridge a gap further , Shea offers vital knowledge to his business patrons especially during the Covid pandemic . Lisa credits him in particular with providing information on the Paycheck Protection Program and other initiatives that assist those affected by shutdowns . Through this and other specialized coverage , Lisa said Louisville Business First saw record website visits and increased readership .
Covid times have also taught Shea , too , the value of selfcare . Balancing work and family can be tough . Taking breaks is a way for both his staff and himself to reset .
“ As a manager , that ’ s important to lead by example ,” Shea said . “ I ’ m not a robot . You guys aren ’ t robots , either . We need to take care of each other and take time off if needed .”
In addition to his love of baseball , Shea enjoys cooking , hiking , attending concerts and spending time with his pets . Cats are his favorite . He shares a home with felines Moon Pie and Frankie , and , until recently , served on the board of Animal Protection Association , a Southern Indiana nonprofit that rescues felines of all ages .
24 EXTOL : WINTER 2021