Ken Johnson
Grand Junction Free Press Opinion Columnist

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February 28, 2013
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JOHNSON: Meet Sam and helper Murphy

Two Free Press writers took home several wins in Colorado Press Association writing contest categories last weekend in snowy Denver. I couldn't be more delighted.

It was the 135th annual meeting of Colorado's press lords and a huge number of their staff members.

My interest is from having been to 44 of these meetings since I was president of the association, back in the good ol' days. You get to see lots of old friends - some retired and some still laboring in the newspaper world.

For the Free Press, Caitlin Row and Sharon Sullivan won and placed in several categories. Free Press readers should be proud to know these two fine writers are judged to be outstanding by their peers.

The Daily Sentinel and its staff took home armloads of awards, from writing to photos to ads to design. Altogether, it's a validation that the town and the entire West Slope continue to have outstanding newspapers that care about our little corner of the world.

The Colorado Press Association is a serious organization, today headed by Samantha Johnston.

The very fact that Sam is executive director, the head honcho of an unruly bunch of newspaper folk speaks volumes about newspapers. Women have for 100 years or more been doing nearly every task newspapers needed, included being the owners.

Sam is a delight. She cares. And she insists that despite a world of rapid change and everyday crisis we ink-stained wretches need to have bright days.

She did a couple of "lighten up" things. For one, she wrote a greeting for all in the program.

"My wish for you is lots of productive networking, plenty of opportunity to catch up with friends old and new, great ideas you can take back and implement immediately, and fresh perspectives that inspire and motivate you to imagine, innovate and thrive in 2013 and beyond."

Second, it's possible that because she went to Colorado State University intent on being a veterinarian that she loves her big dog, Murphy.

She used a HUGE cutout of Murphy (note he's over 5 feet tall) as the attention grabber so anyone could easily find the CPA convention headquarters. Murphy, a golden retriever, just LOOKS like he wants to help.

Oh, how did Sam become a newspaper person instead of a vet? She took one journalism class and got hooked. Changed her major and graduated with a J degree. She continues to use it for everyone's benefit.

As executive director for CPA, she and her team make life in the fast-changing newspaper world a whole lot easier for her wards, scattered all over Colorado putting out newspapers that tell the stories of their communities, trying to make sure their readers are accurately informed, daily and weekly - as they've done for over 100 years.

Having known at least four of the talented directors who came before her, I can confirm Sam is a great addition to those who labor to help keep the news coming.

With Murphy's help she will make good things happen for newspapers and the real beneficiaries, their readers.

Ken is founder of the Grand Junction Free Press and former owner/publisher of The Daily Sentinel. He spends his time between the Grand Valley and California.

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The Post Independent Updated Feb 28, 2013 02:28PM Published Feb 28, 2013 02:27PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.