New Frontier Publications has a new editor
Christin (Davis) Thieme succeeds Robert Docter in leading the West’s publications department.
In the Davis family, you could say education is the family business.
Growing up in Southern California, oldest daughter Christin watched her mother teach elementary school, her grandmother work as a college professor, and even her father, a law enforcement officer, teach at a police academy. So for her, a career in the classroom was all but foregone.
“Teaching,” she said, “is very much a part of my blood.”
But then came college. It was her first semester at Azusa Pacific University, and she needed one more class to round out her schedule, so she turned to an afterthought elective—Journalism 101. What she didn’t realize: her teaching career was about to be put on hold.
“I loved that whole class. I vividly remember being in that class and going, ‘wow…this is what I want to do—forget teaching,’” she laughed. “That semester changed everything.”
She switched her major shortly thereafter and later transferred to California State University, Fullerton, where she earned a bachelor’s in journalism. Now, over a decade into her journalism career, it’s safe to say she made the right call.
Christin (Davis) Thieme was recently named the Western Territory’s Editor in Chief and Literary Secretary, a reserve appointment approved by General André Cox, succeeding her longtime mentor and New Frontier Publications founder, Robert Docter.
Thieme started with the organization 10 years ago as an editorial intern for New Frontier Publications, where she worked her way up to Caring editor, then managing editor—the role in which she’s served for the past six years—and as of Aug. 1, the department’s most senior role.
In a Millennial-dominant workforce keen on job-hopping, Thieme acknowledges she’s in rare company having worked for a single employer through her 20s. But several factors continue to make for a good marriage.
“I love that this job incorporates journalism, which I have natural affinity toward,” she said. “I love finding out about things that are happening and developing stories, but it’s also fun to work for an organization that has so much going on in every arena of making people’s lives better. It’s a really neat interaction of interests.”
She also has a history with The Salvation Army, growing up attending church at a corps, but admits she’s since come to learn “exponentially more” about the organization. In her time with New Frontier Publications, Thieme’s reported on stories across the world—from Cuba to India to Vietnam. Whether she’s investigating religious freedom, social enterprise or human trafficking, she said she’s always awestruck by The Salvation Army’s ability to adapt to meet the needs in whichever community it serves.
“It’s incredible to see this one organization that has so many similarities across the board, but also to see how it operates in such vastly different ways in communities,” she said.
Last summer, she took a trip back to where it all started—London—serving as a leader of the Boundless 2015 Congress Media Team. Alongside Jeff Moulton, Editor in Chief of The Salvationist in the Canada and Bermuda Territory, Thieme planned and organized coverage of the international congress for a daily tabloid newspaper, Boundless Today.
She keeps her passport handy, but during her time with New Frontier Publications, she’s also rediscovered a love for the classroom. “I think part of the teaching side of my genes includes a need to learn,” she said. “I love being in school and having homework, so I’m always looking for some way to keep learning or a way to improve what I do.”
In 2012, she earned a master’s in specialized journalism from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism and subsequently began working as an adjunct professor in the Communications Department at California Lutheran University, where where she’s taught a session of “Writing for the Mass Media” each semester ever since.
“I always say on the first day of class if you don’t want to be a journalist that’s fine, but I still intend this class to be useful to you,” she said. “Writing is a part of all of our lives.” One of the most gratifying aspects of teaching has been seeing students put the material to good use.
“One of my students from my first semester teaching, who’s also written for New Frontier Publications, just got hired by CNN,” she said. “It’s rewarding to see that development in people’s lives.”
Most everything develops swiftly under Thieme’s leadership. In 2014, she spearheaded an overhaul of the outfit’s flagship publication, New Frontier, paying an increased focus to news analysis as part of an industry-wide shift. The result: New Frontier Chronicle—a sleeker, more streamlined source for Salvation Army happenings, to complement a redesigned website with augmented news coverage for the web.
She’s also directed a readership study and branding analysis for New Frontier Chronicle’s sister publication, Caring, which culminated in a more focused and effective print and digital strategy.
She said she’s proud of what she’s accomplished individually—including four writing awards from the Evangelical Press Association—and as part of New Frontier Publications, but she’s excited to forge ahead.
“I think that we have a really effective and dedicated team right now, and it’s neat to see how it’s come together,” she said. “We have an incredible history and foundation, and it’s exciting to think about what we can do to move things forward and improve upon what we already do.”
Not having Docter along for the ride figures to be an adjustment, she said.
“Bob’s been my mentor. He’s been a big part of my life, a really encouraging part of my life,” she said. “I think a lot of what we’ll aim to do is to continue what he’s built and make sure he’s proud of the work that we keep doing.
“I am definitely going to miss hearing him yell, ‘Hey, Chris!,’ down the hall anytime he wants to chat.”