Josh Nichols: Memories of the Free Press
Former Editor of the Free Press
We planned to use the entire three and a half hour drive from Grand Junction back to Craig to chew on the idea of a reporting job at a start-up newspaper in Grand Junction.
Cons: It was a start-up. I knew nothing about the owners. I knew nothing about the financial situation. I had no idea if I would have a job in a month.
Pros: It was a start-up. Good friends from college worked there. It appeared individuals working there were getting paid. Grand Junction seemed pretty cool.
Should we do it?
KP and I made a decision before we hit Parachute; and we answered the question the only way early 20-somethings should answer any question: “What the hell? What do we have to lose?”
And the six-year adventure began…
I can’t do justice to my Grand Junction Free Press experience in the space provided, so I’ll say this:
I loved everything about it. I loved the job. I loved the people. I loved the community.
This little rag gave me a heck of an opportunity — an opportunity to work with a revolving door of smart, talented, good people. You all know who you are, and I hope you know I miss each one of you.
The work was fun, and it was hard. The newspaper went through good times and down times. I always wished we could do more than we did, but we never stopped scrapping.
A common question posed to Free Pressers back in the early days was: Are you guys gonna make it?
Back then, I never knew the answer.
Now, as I pen a guest piece for the newspaper’s final issue, the answer is finally clear — and it’s not what you think.
To come to my answer, I pretended it was 2003, and I was part of a hungry, motivated group of dreamers doing what was already unheard of at the time — start a newspaper. I responded to the “are you gonna make it” question knowing then what I know now.
I said, “Writers and photographers are going to share thousands of stories about thousands upon thousands of local people. Hundreds of local contributors are going to share opinions, stories, and their expertise in countless subject-matter areas. Thousands of readers will agree, disagree, laugh, cry, and find inspiration in the stories told — and they will have an opportunity do so for the next 12 years.”
KP and I were correct back in 2003: We had absolutely nothing to lose. But we — and a community — had everything to gain if the Free Press “made it.”
For our sake, and the community’s sake, I’m glad it did.
Josh Nichols worked at the Grand Junction Free Press from 2003-2009 and served as editor from 2006-2009. He is a judge advocate in the United States Air Force, currently assigned to a Regional Environmental Law Office in Atlanta, Ga., where he lives with his wife, KP, and their two children, Teddy, 2, and Cricket, 2 weeks.
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