Editor Column: Reflecting on 1 year at The Citizen
This is what you would call a happy coincidence. Exactly one year ago from the date of this being published, I started here at The Citizen Telegram.
That day — April 7, 2015 — was spent mostly learning how to use our program for managing content and meeting the people at the Post Independent office in Glenwood Springs. I also managed to do a short write-up about a family in Battlement Mesa seeking financial assistance to help care for a young boy with a rare disease.
Between taking a week off work during the transition and dealing with the headaches of relocating, I remember feeling out of practice while trying to write that story, which was as straightforward as it gets.
Oddly enough, I feel somewhat similar at this moment, after taking off last Thursday and Friday to go see Bruce Springsteen in Denver. (Just in case you’re interested, the man played for three hours straight without a break — well worth the exorbitant cost of the tickets.) Everything comes full circle I suppose.
I am having a difficult time wrapping my head around the fact that it’s been a year. Where did the time go?
It seems like it was just recently that I was navigating Grand River Health for the first time and asking strangers about their thoughts on the health fair. (Friendly reminder: This year’s health fair is Saturday.)
Those first couple of weeks were a blur, likely due to the lack of sleep.
I do remember receiving a thank you from a local official after writing one of my early stories. It was a sensitive subject, but he was grateful that I had gone out and sought opinions from people in the community outside of the regular talking heads.
The thank you was met with a peculiar stare, and I think I said something to the effect of “that’s what journalism is.”
Looking back on the last year, my largest regret is that the “hit the streets” mentality has not always been possible when reporting on the communities of western Garfield County. I live in Rifle, but am tasked with covering the four communities from Parachute to New Castle. I work long hours and am stingy with my money, so I don’t get out a whole lot.
It is hard to stay in-the-know under those circumstances, which is why I try to be at every local meeting during the week. I might not leave with a story, but I’ll have a deeper knowledge when it is time to string some words together.
All of this is to say that it’s near impossible for me to be in all these places and have the knowledge that I’d like to when writing about this or that. Finding and sharing those other perspectives is something I will strive to do a better job of here in my second year at The Citizen.
While being hypercritical comes naturally to me, I’d be remiss if I did not mention some of the positives from the past year.
First and foremost, my extreme gratitude to all of you.
From day one the people here have been gracious, caring and understanding. I’ve been on the opposite side of that spectrum enough times to truly appreciate the kindness, and I mean it with all sincerity when I say “thank you.”
Regarding my geographical coverage responsibilities, I believe the paper does a better job of covering more ground than it has in recent years. (At least that is what people have told me.)
On this note, though, more can be done, particularly with education in Parachute and the New Castle community in general. Consider that another one of my year-two objectives.
Our digital presence has improved considerably, including on Facebook, where our page likes have increased to more than 1,000. Check out our page at http://www.facebook.com/citizentelegram/.
Despite the previously mentioned hurdles, I’ve tried to be present in the community when possible. This includes an embarrassing defeat in the jalapeño eating contest at the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce chili cook off last fall. I plan on redeeming myself this year, so watch out.
Lining up the successes and failures on a mental balance sheet, it is obvious that there is still work to do, and I’m as excited to meet those challenges as I was the day I started.
However, as has been the case since that first week, I need your help. Reach out to me with your ideas, criticisms, opinions and other tidbits. Here’s to a second year loving life on the Western Slope.
Ryan Hoffman is editor of The Citizen Telegram. You can reach him at 970-685-2103 or at email@example.com.