Columbus needs a bigger ego. At least that's what the new editor of Alive thinks. Fortunately, she's in a better position than just about anyone to give this city a confidence boost.

Columbus needs a bigger ego. At least that's what the new editor of Alive thinks. Fortunately, she's in a better position than just about anyone to give this city a confidence boost.

After graduating from journalism school at Ohio State, Shelley Mann worked as a reporter and features editor at the Gwinnett Daily Post in suburban Atlanta. That's where she learned about life in a city with high self-esteem.

"Atlanta thinks of itself as a really big city, and it is the biggest city in the South," she said. "I guess it just kind of has a big ego about itself, and everyone from Atlanta is very proud to be from there."

So does she think Columbus should have that kind of swagger?

"Yeah, I do. I think people should be more proud to live in Columbus. They should be bragging about living here."

Shelley joined Alive in 2007, spearheading projects like our Columbus Dining Guide as assistant editor. With this week's issue, she assumes the reins as editor, leading our team of writers and editors and steering our coverage of everything that's cool here - music, arts, movies, dining, nightlife and city life.

She'll be working hard to give Columbus residents something to brag about.

You were editor-in-chief of The Lantern when the Buckeyes won the 2002 National Championship. Is that story the holy grail of student journalism at Ohio State?

Yeah, I don't think it gets much bigger than Ohio State football at Ohio State. It was a pretty exciting year leading up to the championship, with one win after another. And then we had rioting after the Michigan game - rioting for the win - so that was interesting to cover.

How has your perspective on Columbus changed, from covering the city as a student to covering it now at Alive?

When I was a student I didn't have a car - a lot of people who go to Ohio State don't - so my perspective on Columbus was limited to High Street from Downtown to not even as far north as Clintonville. Most of what we covered was pretty much along that corridor.

The biggest thing that's changed is seeing the city in a broader way and getting to know the other really neat neighborhoods. The city seems a lot bigger to me now.

Is it true that when you were at the Gwinnett Daily Post you appeared on CNN as a Runaway Bride expert?

Yes. The night [in 2005] that Jennifer Wilbanks called in to say she'd been kidnapped, everyone on the newspaper staff was at a party. I was the most sober person there, so I went out to cover the story all night. By morning it came out that she had just run away by herself and concocted the whole thing.

CNN was looking for the local perspective, so I got to go on. I had interviewed the Runaway Bride's fiance and family members before they found out it was a lie, and after, so the most interesting part of the story was their change in reaction from excitement to anger.

What was your favorite story that you wrote there?

I did a story where for two weeks I ate nothing but food that was produced in the state of Georgia, and then I wrote about the challenges and rewards of eating locally.

How did living in Atlanta compare to Columbus?

People in Atlanta go downtown a lot more than they do in Columbus. Even though we have great restaurants and art events and theater in Columbus, the crowds are a lot smaller, so there are more opportunities to experience those things here.

And the traffic is awful in Atlanta. If anyone complains about the traffic here, they don't know what they're talking about.

What's your favorite story that you've written at Alive?

I liked my Top 50 TV Shows of the Decade story. It made all the hours of TV that I've watched seem less frivolous and more professional. I'm proud of my Lunch Money column, because I like to help people find new and different options instead of eating at the same places every day.

And I was really happy with my guide to ethnic grocery stores in Columbus. I feel like those places are really cool but slightly intimidating, and I think they deserve to have more shoppers.

As editor of Alive, what's the story you hope to tell about Columbus?

I want everyone who lives in Columbus to recognize how cool the city is and how much we have going on here, and to be excited about it.

What's Columbus' best-kept secret?

The restaurant scene. People who don't live in Columbus think of us as the land of fast food and chains. We actually have a pretty cool scene of restaurants run by chefs who are doing some exciting things with local ingredients and seasonal menus. Columbus is a great place for food lovers.

What's one thing you would change about Columbus if you could?

I would like to see Downtown become more happening. I'd like to see more businesses come down here and for everything to stay open later.

I hope one day we'll see Downtown truly connect German Village to the Short North, so when you're going up High Street it's an uninterrupted main drag with all sorts of places to stop, shop, eat and hang out.

What's the biggest challenge this city faces?

The lack of name recognition. When you're trying to talk up Columbus outside of the state, you have to add the word "Ohio," which I think is annoying. I guess we just need to establish our dominance as the one and only Columbus.

What's the best advice you've ever received?

Never use two words when one will do.

What are three things you can't live without?

TiVo, my laptop and ice cream.

What's one thing about you that people might not know?

I am Martha Stewart's biggest fan.