After three weeks in Glenwood Springs, I’m even happier to be the Post Independent’s editor than when I arrived expecting to love the place. And I haven’t even had a real home yet.
My cat and I until this weekend were living temporarily near downtown, at the Glenwood Motor Inn, waiting for my wife to arrive and for tenants to move from our home in Carbondale. We get to start settling in this week.
The short-term location gave me a taste of Glenwood’s fun life, the visitor hubbub even before the rafting and hiking season really gets rolling. The town is a pleasant mix of small-town living and tourism buzz. I’ve run and biked along the rivers, visited the Storm King 14 memorial in Two Rivers Park and had a couple of gallons of coffee over introductory conversations at Bluebird and Sacred Grounds coffeehouses.
On Wednesday, I hope to meet many more of my new neighbors.
Michael Bennett, the PI publisher and another guy who has to pinch himself periodically over feeling so lucky to be here, will join me in hosting a coffee conversation for whoever wants to join us.
We’ll be at the Bluebird, 730 Grand Ave., at 8:30 a.m. Drop by, say hi. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions.
Among the things that will be a recurring theme for me will be our goal for the Post Independent to be interactive with our readers.
Here’s what I mean by that: For most of the life of this country, what media critic A.J. Liebling said — “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one” — was all too true. Newspapers and newscasters talked to people and decided what content mattered.
The Internet has finally democratized freedom of speech on a large scale. Today, we truly have the unruly marketplace of ideas — many of them profane and genuinely bad — that English thinker John Milton envisioned in the 1600s. Traditional media, the Post Independent included, better listen to the cacophony and invite people to our platforms, lest we not be included in the conversation.
Does that mean we just listen and don’t make choices?
No. We will strive to put issues in context, to curate the information flooding from the firehose, help celebrate community joy and be conveners to aid conversation on tough issues. As journalists, we have access to people and places most people don’t have or don’t have time to cultivate. We are positioned and practiced in illuminating conversation, and will work to do that job.
We have many tools for conversation and sharing: the newspaper, which is shared widely; Postindependent.com, our website with about 9,000 visitors on most days; Facebook, which reaches thousands more; and our revived Twitter presence, @GlenwoodPI, where we are working on rebuilding followers. Twitter is a good venue for us to quickly share reports from around the state, and is the fastest source of breaking news.
Facebook is a great place for quick discussion of issues and represents one piece of our role as a community convener. Last week, several people discussed the merits of preschool following our story on the Kids Count! report that the county lags behind the rest of the state in the proportion of children in formal preschool programs. By watching engagement with our stories and monitoring conversations, we learn what is capturing the community’s attention.
Perhaps the most traditional means of interaction is letters to the editor. This page today includes a call from Jim Ingraham of Glenwood Springs for civility in the letters column. I agree, and will work to adhere to our policy, stated each day on this page: “Letters deemed libelous, obscene, in bad taste or containing personal attacks will not be printed.” We also won’t print things that aren’t true. There’s a difference between opinions and falsehoods. And we will seek to include as many voices as possible, using extra space when we have enough letters, but will work with writers to limit length to 350 words.
We have many other means to contribute to our digital and print content, one of the most important being the “Community Calendar” link on our home page.
I want to close with a reminder that we are seeking your help in honoring the Storm King 14 as the 20th anniversary of that tragedy approaches. We invited essays remembering the incident, its impact on the community and on readers’ lives. We will publish one a day in print in the week leading up to the commemoration and will publish more digitally. Aim for no more than 750 words.
Email the essays and your questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Randy Essex is editor of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.