New PI editor: Our goals are service and respect
Ryan Summerlin May 18, 2014
Let me introduce myself: I’m your new editor here at the Post Independent.
Your editor because any newspaper is a public trust and resource that exists to serve the community. We give voice to needs, aspirations, celebrations and, yes, troubles that must be examined.
I’ve worked around the country, a privilege of a journalism career that’s enabled me to experience the rich diversity of America’s economy and viewpoints — and to appreciate our many similarities.
My commitment to you is to get to know our region, its residents, character, hopes and needs. We’ll be respectful of all viewpoints as we are clear about our own, but only on the editorial page, not in news stories.
As we engage in an ongoing conversation about this truly great place where we live, the Post Independent, my staff and I will work toward solutions and making residents’ lives better.
I’m in Garfield County by choice and for the long term — my wife and I are smart enough to realize this region is among the best places to live in a great country.
A little about my journey here:
I grew up in a county seat town in southeast Nebraska that’s about the size of Glenwood Springs but not nearly so interesting or fun, and graduated from the University of Nebraska.
I spent my summers before my freshman and sophomore years of college working construction and oil field jobs around Gillette, Wyo. My newspaper career started in Abilene, Texas, where a demonstration oil well drilled on downtown convention center grounds to mark the town’s centennial actually struck oil.
I also have experience with green interests, and I know that energy is one of those topics where respect for different viewpoints is important. (Lightheartedly, I think we can all appreciate the big solar energy spills that happen here about 300 days a year.)
After Texas, I spent five years in Boise, Idaho, and developed appreciation for the grandeur of the West, exploring Idaho and meeting college friends halfway for my first Colorado hiking trips.
From there, my young family went to Des Moines, Iowa, where I raised my son, who’s now an IT talent recruiter in L.A.
I worked at the Des Moines Register for 18 years, doing every city desk job in the room, finally overseeing the core reporting news staff from 2002-06. Presidential candidates and sitting presidents came to our office because of the Iowa caucuses, and we got to be at the center of the political universe for a few months every four years. It was great fun. I’ve been on the BBC pretending to be an expert on American presidential politics, figuring no one in London would be the wiser.
After that, I worked six years at the Detroit Free Press — I moved from a post-World War II idyllic neighborhood in Des Moines to post-industrial downtown Detroit. I’m not a guy who’s afraid of change.
In Detroit, part of my job was overseeing business coverage, including the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler — but I left before the whole city went bankrupt. I developed a lot of affection for Detroit, and I and cheer for its recovery. Detroit’s history shows a lot of what is both right and wrong with America, from the rise of the middle class to the danger of counting too much on any one industry.
While there, I created a program called Michigan Green Leaders, seeking to identify best practices and potential for the green economy. It was a nonpartisan, business-oriented program that drew Bill Ford Jr. as its first keynote speaker and brought together activists, conservationists, entrepreneurs, politicians and industrialists. I reveled in making those connections and hope we can bring people together on issues here.
Green Leaders also led me to a brief stint with Rocky Mountain Institute, the energy think tank based in Old Snowmass, and falling in love with this area before I was lured back to news. I spent the last two years as senior editor/news at the Cincinnati Enquirer, where I got to watch the 2012 presidential race up close in always-critical Ohio.
It’s been a rewarding adventure.
Now my wife, Angelyn Frankenberg, and I are here for the long term and glad about it. I love to run and bike, so I’m thrilled to live in Carbondale near the Rio Grande Trail.
I’m eager to meet folks and learn what’s on your mind. I’ll be having coffee and happy hours — we’ll publicize times and places — and I’ll be knocking on doors of businesses and organizations in our area.
Our mission is simple: Tell the truth and work to make life better.
I invite you to join us in working out the tricky details.