Nearly 23 years ago, I was sitting in a parking lot in Salt Lake City listening to breaking news about the city winning the 2002 Winter Olympics bid. Inside my head, I said: “I gotta get out.”
I wasn’t about to live through construction, population growth and more construction. I was too concerned about watching the beautiful canyons with world-class skiing become overrun by the world.
So I got out.
I came to The Durango Herald to return to reporting after having been an editor for a few years. I covered city government and business. Every evening when I left work, I said to myself: “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.”
I loved it. I loved it even when an editor assigned me to go to the La Plata County Fair to shear a sheep and write about it. I loved it even when that same editor came to me – a person who dislikes chocolate – and assigned me to attend Chocolate Fantasia and write about it.
I even loved it when I spent long hours on the searing asphalt at roadblocks and 30 days living in hotels while covering the famed Four Corners manhunt. Or the long days of covering major snowstorms, enormous wildfires or mine spills. Or the normal days of writing about Walmart coming to town, Snowdown’s debauchery or the charms of towns in the Four Corners.
I still love it, but it’s also time for me to move on.
So I am.
Friday, March 22, will be my last day as executive editor here at Ballantine Communications Inc.
This is the part in this goodbye column where I could drag the soapbox in front of you, readers, and make an impassioned plea for your continued support so that Durango can keep its family-owned newspaper. I could also write about how critical newspapers are for an informed citizenry and a strong democracy. But you know that.
Instead, I’m going to give you 14 other important reasons why you should support the Herald:
Shane Benjamin, our city editor, runs this place while I’m in back-to-back meetings. His institutional knowledge is invaluable and his dedication to his job and this community are remarkable. He’s the one who skillfully shepherds the reporters to bring you the headlines.
Mary Shinn, our special topics and health reporter, cares deeply about every story she writes, and she goes the extra mile figuratively and literally (she has an hour commute each way). No story is insignificant, and to Mary, neither are our readers. Her new role to cover special topics will elevate the journalism we can deliver.
Jonathan Romeo, our county and environment reporter, has a knack for finding those stories you love to click on. He specializes in dogs. He also does an excellent job at capturing a person’s personality. His passion for the environment drives his top-notch reporting on the subject.
Patrick Armijo, our education and business reporter, is the newsroom agitator who enjoys spirited conversation that often challenges our thinking so that we don’t fall victim to complacency. His many decades in the industry and his special interest in business add value to our stories.
Bret Hauff, our city and crime reporter, is the newest addition to our reporting team. He likes numbers, and he’s found a niche in helping readers understand big things: snow mounds, money, toilet paper. His genuine curiosity does and will serve him well as a journalist.
Ryan Maye Handy, our Colorado Legislature reporter, has quickly become a valuable expert on Southwest Colorado politics and issues. She single-handedly informs our readers of what is going on at the state Capitol, and her ability to ferret out a local angle has added so much so soon.
Mark Borgard, our news editor, relieves a lot of pressure in this newsroom by managing deadlines with ease so that you get your paper in the morning. He is a veteran journalist whose contributions help us through transitions.
David Buck, our assistant city and digital editor, is a supreme editor and an important critical thinker. He’s been part of our newsroom for about 16 years and has led it in admirable ways. His work is and always will be impeccable and fair.
Katie Chicklinski-Cahill, our arts and entertainment editor, knows The Associated Press Stylebook the way a mother knows ... well, mothers know everything. Katie knows all the news, and she makes sure we know it, too. She’s a supreme copy editor. Don’t dangle your modifiers in front of her.
Nick Gonzales, our food and business editor, told me in his interview for his job that working in the Herald newsroom was his “dream job.” Since his first day, he’s treated it as such, and readers benefit from his enthusiasm.
Jerry McBride, our photo editor, could easily carry this entire paper with photos alone. His quality photojournalism rightly earns him praise inside and outside this newsroom. Jerry captures our community in unforgettable ways.
John Livingston, our regional sports editor, has off-the-charts passion for his work in ways that make our sports pages better than many others. His devotion to local sports teams is full of heart and as much pride as a parent’s.
Brendan Ploen, our newest sports reporter, walked onto the job with refreshing enthusiasm to start his career with our quality team of journalists. His courage and confidence make this team stronger.
Claudia Laws, our audience development manager, is our biggest cheerleader and has been critically instrumental in helping our newsroom learn more about you. She’s not short on ideas or inspiration, and she moved the needle when we needed to.
These people, too, deserve credit for their contributions in making my career here at the Herald unforgettable: David Holub, an exceptionally talented designer; Brandon Mathis, whose outdoor pursuits made our Adventure Pro magazine successful; Angelica Leicht and Amanda Push, who put their heads together and came up with wonderful content for DGO magazine; Michelle Martin, a patient pre-press designer who laughed at every one of my jokes; and to Sue McMillin, our former city editor who kept the wheels on this bus while I was on sabbatical for a fellowship.
And a heartfelt thanks to you – our readers, advertisers and subscribers. You make all of this possible. Please support local news and this crew I’ve had the privilege of leading for several years.
P.S. Print isn’t dead.