Thanks for a great first year at the Post Independent
The Post Independent has a regular feature called Readers Say Thanks; today it’s time for the editor to say thanks.
I started a year ago today as the PI editor, and it’s been a rewarding time. I want to sincerely thank everyone who has met me for coffee, invited me to meetings, shared ideas, written letters to the editor (including the guy who called me the “worst editor the paper has ever had”) or engaged with the PI or me on social media. Thanks to my staff, too, at least for not saying to my face that I’m the worst editor ever — and for a lot of hard work covering the range of civic issues, sports and entertainment in Garfield County.
Here’s my big secret: It’s fun. I love being close to the community and hearing what’s on people’s minds. I love reasoned criticism and vigorous discussion of issues. I love editing letters to the editor and guest opinions. You’ve stimulated my brain, so thanks for that.
My boss in Cincinnati, Enquirer editor Carolyn Washburn, said casually once in a meeting with me that “we are engaged in an intellectual pursuit.” I’ve always thought that — it’s a big part of what attracted me to the profession.
It’s a little like college, learning constantly about new ideas and issues.
This summer, for example, I plan to learn all I can about the General Railroad Right-of-Way Act of 1875 and railbanking as it relates to the Rio Grande corridor; and I want to study state high school activities associations and their accountability. I think these are issues that are under the radar and have impact around the nation as well as here in Garfield County. If I learn enough, I may even write something.
Speaking of writing … this job has taken me back to my journalism roots. I decided to major in journalism in college mostly because I liked writing and politics, and had good high school journalism experiences. But I got into the daily news business just as newspapers computerized. An effect of that, as printers and typesetters were laid off to save money, was that executives discovered they were transferring work to newsrooms, and they needed people who weren’t afraid of computers to work as editors.
And the rest is history, or at least it’s my career. I was a copy editor who wrote news stories on the side in Abilene, Texas. I was a copy editor who wrote editorials on the side in Boise, Idaho. I became an assignment editor in Des Moines, Iowa, then a department head, and had little time for writing in Des Moines, Detroit and Cincinnati.
So it is refreshing here to write columns, editorials and periodic stories of various types.
There you have it — being the editor here is great. I’m close to the community, I’m learning about new issues, and I get to write. Then there’s the scenery, the weather and the frequent bike commutes to and from work. Like it or not, I’m not going anywhere.
A year ago, in my introductory column, I made some promises:
“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. …
“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.”
Let me reissue that invitation. What do our communities need and what do you need from your newspaper? I’m firstname.lastname@example.org, @randyessex on Twitter, and I can be reached at 970-384-9110.
Randy Essex is editor of the Post Independent.
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