Emily Caswell may bleed newspaper ink. And if that’s true, she comes by it honestly. As part of the Fitzgerald and Smith families, Caswell’s draw into the journalistic realm is a generational thing. After all, her grandfather was the well-known syndicated columnist at the Detroit Free Press, Jim Fitzgerald and Wes Smith, her father, is the publisher of the View Newspaper Group. Fitzgerald began his career in the military when his love of writing and ability to type kept him from the front lines in World War II, as well as beginning a legacy of writers and industry professionals within a family he had yet to conceive. Fitzgerald left the military and worked toward a degree in advertising. After a first job as an ad salesman, who was tapped to write copy now and then, a love for the world of journalism was born. “My grandpa worked in the industry at a time when the sales and news departments worked closely,” Caswell said. “He would be told to go out and get the story but also bring back an ad to support the paper.” Fitzgerald’s love of the medium brought Caswell’s parents together — a fact she appreciates. As an industry kid, her mom worked part time as a typesetter at the weekly newspaper. Wes Smith, a young, spunky 15-year-old, began working in the production department. Years go by and finally a confident, older Smith asks Fitzgerald if he can date his daughter. “My dad was really mature and had facial hair at a very young age,” Caswell recalls. “My grandpa told him that he was unsure about them dating because of the big age difference. Turns out, they were only a few months apart. They’ve been together ever since.” Throughout the years, bigger newspapers in bigger cities recruited Fitzgerald. Finally, when the time was right, Fitzgerald moved full-time from Lapeer, his hometown, to Detroit for the next chapter. “Because my grandpa had a column, we would always be written about,” Caswell said. “You always had to be careful about what you said or did. I remember that he kept a notepad by his chair. I would also go places with him and people would always talk to him. I thought that when you’re a writer, you become famous.” The idea of fame didn’t move Caswell toward journalism, but her internship with The County Press did. If she hadn’t moved in that direction, the entire family may have been a bit disappointed. At family dinners or holiday gatherings, the focus and conversation was always centered on the industry. Discussing who is advertising, the big story of the week, industry changes and all other facets of the newspaper world. Caswell’s uncle was a reporter at the Macomb Daily and her aunt worked in the advertising department at The Flint Journal. “The conversation was always about something related to the newspaper industry,” Caswell confessed. “The newspaper was the end all, be all. It was super important. There were times we would discuss where to grocery shop based on who supported the newspaper at the time.” Caswell’s eyes glistened as she talked about the connection she had with her grandpa as well as her dad. Growing up with an understanding and fondness for the world they shared made her identify with a career path much sooner than most. More than a Journalist If grandpa and dad helped shape her career, Caswell’s mom was there to help stoke the flames of the other interests including fashion, reading and big family gatherings. As the realist of the family, she also gave much needed perspective to make dreams achievable, Caswell said. “My mom always answers her phone. She’s my day-to-day parent,” she added. “She’s a fashionista and we definitely have that in common. She’s just real and I love it.” Caswell also loves her mechanical engineer husband, Matt Caswell, and their tiny, white pound rescue, Yeti. The couple, married for six years, have been a huge fixture in the love Lansing movement. One has to wonder if husband, puppy and other prominent members of the family will wind up in the book Caswell is currently writing. Like a lot of individuals who dream of writing a book in their spare time; there are multiple ideas floating around her mind. Caswell has pages and pages of short stories and also a special compilation of emails from college that are connected. “The side of me that people don’t see is that I think I’m funny,” she laughs. “I had a dream that I would write my book by the time I was 30, but since I’m 33, my new goal is 40. My brother, Adam, inquires about how my book is coming every time we talk.” Caswell’s sense of humor will help her with her book, but she isn’t laughing when it comes to her roles at work and in the community. As publications director at M3 Group, the position offered her the opportunity to stretch her journalistic talents to new worlds of public relations, events, publication management and so much more. In addition, she was able to spend time investing in community building. “In Lansing, from 2004 until now, the perception has changed for the better,” Caswell said. When musing about her time in Lansing, Caswell admits that one of her fondest memories at M3 Group as well as Lansing, is putting on the first and subsequent CAWLM 80s Flashback Fundraisers. The 500-person event featuring local cover band Starfarm, hundreds of 80s posters and plenty of room to get a groove on is a complicated event to manage. “There are many high points that I could talk about but the 80s Flashback Fundraiser and the challenges it presented is definitely one,” Caswell added. “Pulling so many moving parts together was really thrilling. Also getting a call while at a conference in Indiana about editing the Greater Lansing Business Monthly was exciting.” The low points are few, but much appreciated, she added. The opportunities to learn through difficult projects or timelines have been invaluable. Picking up information along the way has given Caswell the experience necessary to take the next step on her career path. Is it a millennial thing or something more? There are a lot of things said about the millennial generation. The inability to change circumstances isn’t one of them. Caswell’s career timeline proves she is not averse to taking the next challenge. Caswell began her new career as brand manager at the View Newspaper Group in November, a place where it really all began. “This is my fourth time moving back to the View Newspaper Group,” she said. “I have a definite pull to this town. My husband is also from Lapeer. It’s about family.” As she relates to the generational thing, Caswell agrees that millennials have many pros and cons. Pros for her generation include being fast paced, having high (sometimes unattainable) expectations and of course over sharing. In her opinion, cons are definitely related to getting “helicopter parented to death,” which means it’s difficult to do anything independently, and peers can be whiny and needy. “Sometimes I wonder how we function,” mused Caswell. “I think it’s hilarious for people my age to post things about their forever home. Our generation is always moving around.” The brand manager position Caswell currently has will keep things fast paced for this millennial. She will create brand awareness, marketing direction, sales team assistance and editorial support for a multitude of business operations including: View Newspaper Group, Michigan Web Press, Louie’s Sports Tavern, Polar Palace Ice Arena, Metamora Golf and Country Club and R&R Animal Bedding. Rick Burrough, Lapeer entrepreneur, owns all of the businesses listed and Smith, Caswell’s father, is the publisher of the newspaper group and supports other areas of the organizations as needed. “I want to positively affect all of the companies. I hope that people will begin to look at these organizations and say, ‘If Rick, Wes and Emily are involved, it will be great,’” she said. “I want to also affect public perception by encouraging people who love Lapeer to be louder.” Caswell is home. And, the only thing that Caswell may love more than writing is her family, so home is the best place to be.
Tiffany Dowling is the Founder and President of M3 Group, a full-service branding agency located in downtown Lansing, Mich. She is also owner and publisher of Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine and the Greater Lansing Business Monthly. Dowling has helped businesses and organizations with branding needs for more than a decade. Learn more at www.m3group.biz.