This fall — a transition time for PI sports
We at the Post Independent will miss Jon Mitchell, our workhorse sports editor, whose last day with us was Friday.
Jon is moving on to the Grand Junction Sentinel as a sports reporter and newly minted fiancé to April Russell, who lives in Grand Junction with her teenage daughter. Congratulations to them both, and to the Sentinel. The folks there know they are getting a very good sports reporter who builds solid relationships with the people he covers.
Having spent my career at much larger news operations whose sports departments were bigger than the entire PI news staff (the Detroit Free Press will typically have two reporters, two or even three columnists, and a couple of photographers at a Lions game while someone in the office does live social media, for example), I marveled at Jon’s ability to juggle Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Roaring Fork and Coal Ridge high school sports, with a little Grand Valley thrown in. He did all that and was at local footraces, golf events, rodeos and more, worked the phones and managed periodic features on the neat people he met along the way.
Inevitably, someone would feel slighted. A parent would call, someone involved in a relatively obscure (albeit important to those involved) sport would complain that we didn’t cover their event. I would cringe a little when I heard Jon tell them on the phone, “I’m just one guy …”
I’ve learned through the years that readers don’t care how many or few people we have on staff or how busy we are — but you should all know that only a couple of people with whom I’ve worked in any size market covered as much turf and juggled as many topics as deftly as Jon.
And he loved it. (He still loves it, but he’s dead to me as of about 2 p.m. Friday, so I speak of him in the past tense.) Jon, who was at the old Post and then the PI for a time after the merger, knew the turf and the people and had great enthusiasm for the material.
Jon was a terrific colleague, too. Funny, generous with his time and a full participant in our efforts to serve Garfield County readers in print and digitally. The only staffer who will not miss him is newsroom cat and budding columnist Typo, and that’s more about her disdain for Jon’s Jack Russell terrier Joan Jett than about Jon himself.
It stinks as a manager to lose a staffer and good guy like Jon. When it happens, I remember the single best piece of management advice I’ve ever gotten: “It’s never set.” In any business, you can think the economy is humming along, your staff is perfect, that you bike to work on a trail of sunshine and sweet-smelling sagebrush — and I do a couple of times a week — and then China devalues its currency and oil collapses, someone decides to go to teachers college and it rains for a week.
We move on.
I’ve hired a new sports editor, Joshua Carney, who will be here Sept. 2.
Josh is finishing up his master’s in journalism at Syracuse University.
Coincidentally, our arts and entertainment editor, Jessica Cabe, who is establishing herself throughout our two river valleys and boosting the PI strongly, has a master’s from Syracuse. We are creating a pipeline.
Even more coincidentally, my high school’s sports team name is the Orangemen (and Lady Orange). Syracuse used to be the Orangemen, and now is just the Orange. No larger point there; just a bit of serendipity. We will be keeping the PI’s green theme color.
Josh has had internships with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Sports Report, a sports radio station in Pittsburgh (he grew up in the area, which is one of the nation’s hotbeds for high school football) and other organizations, including work covering upstate New York high school sports. He’s an outdoorsman particularly fond of hunting who is eager to dive into Colorado life and Garfield County sports coverage.
Once he’s here, the firehose opens up as he learns our computer system and procedures, and reaches out to the five high schools just as the fall sports season starts. I hope he runs fast.
In the meantime, the PI goes from “just one guy” to no one dedicated to sports for the next couple of weeks. Bear with us.
Well-known PI contributor Mike Vidakovich will be around Glenwood Springs; Citizen Telegram Editor Ryan Hoffman will pick up a bit of Rifle sports, including the Bears’ first football game with their coach sitting out because of the Colorado High School Activities Association restriction on the program; John Stroud and Will Grandbois are available for Carbondale callers; and I’ll be shooting a picture at Glenwood High’s football practice on Monday for our upcoming football preview section.
To share sports information, scores, questions and ideas until Josh arrives, email email@example.com or call 970-384-9123.
Randy Essex is editor of the Post Independent.
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