In Defiance: Familiarity goes a long way in community newspapering
As far as new editor introductions go, this one should be easy.
Most of you have known me as a journalist in Garfield County going on 30 years now, and I couldn’t be prouder to take the helm as editor of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.
It’s a journey that started when I was hired as a cub reporter just out of college back in June 1988, when the Glenwood Post was a five-day paper publishing in the afternoon.
I vividly remember covering a county commission meeting or a court hearing in the morning and ducking out around 1 o’clock to come back to the newsroom and turn my stories for that evening’s paper.
Times have certainly changed. Today, our focus is on the immediacy of the news cycle, reporting breaking news and big stories online as they happen from wherever our journalists happen to be, while still providing a solid, relevant print product.
After cutting my teeth in those early days at the Glenwood Post and later as a reporter for Carbondale’s weekly Valley Journal, I found myself as editor of the VJ soon after it became part of the Swift/Colorado Mountain News Media family in the mid-2000s.
I was at the Valley Journal 12 years before it folded amid the Great Recession of 2008. That time taught me something important about newspapering in a small town. I learned what it means to be a community, and the role of the community newspaper as a respected, reliable source of local news and information, and a forum to tell people’s stories.
I believe there’s a good reason I landed in this position. I know what makes these communities tick, because I’ve been here observing their evolution for three decades.
While it’s important for the editor of a community newspaper be a local, the beauty is anyone can be a “local,” really, if they try hard enough to understand and be involved in their community.
It’s hard to put into exact words. Maybe it’s just knowing and understanding why June 8, July 6, April 15 and Dec. 16 aren’t just dates on the calendar here. People died, homes were lost and lives were changed forever on those dates in local history. Research it for yourself, if you care.
Garfield County is more than one community, of course. From Carbondale to Parachute, each does “community” in its own way, and probably better than a lot of places.
We are “small town” in many ways, but there are some broader cultural qualities that make our region unique. That also makes for some exciting opportunities when it comes to reporting the news and covering the issues facing our collective community.
One of our goals as a news organization is to collaborate with our sister publications in Aspen, Vail, Summit County, Grand County, Steamboat Springs and Craig to dive in and explore those issues that affect us all, such as housing, transportation, immigration, healthcare, mental health, addiction and crime, just to name a few.
Now, just a little bit about this particular space. I intend to write a regular column, in addition to continuing to offer the many other opinion columnists and a robust letters forum. We will also continue to take editorial positions as necessary on various topics of local interest and concern.
My column title, “In Defiance,” if you haven’t figured it out, is a double entendre.
Of course, historically the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Grand (Colorado) River was settled as the rough-and-tumble town of Defiance before the official founding of Glenwood Springs in 1885.
So, I’m literally in Defiance.
And, if you know me at all, you know that I can tend to be just a little bit defiant when it comes to my unapologetic questioning of authority and bucking of political norms. I’ll expound on that later.
I would like to thank my immediate predecessor in the editor’s position, Randy Essex. I learned a lot from Randy about how to take our role in the community to another level, so I have a little promise to keep.
We’re not just a source of news and useful information, but a forum for facilitating the discussions that need to occur around the issues of our time. With that, look for the Post Independent to continue its occasional Common Ground panelist series as a way to have those conversations.
Until next time …
John Stroud is editor of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. In Defiance will appear with as much regularity as routine editing and newsroom management demands allow.