Editor Column: What is it you do again?
It’s increasingly difficult to write these weekly pieces without sounding like a broken record.
Of course, the “broken record” saying carries a negative connotation; one I’m reminded of every other weekend on my drive to Salida when my Springsteen CD won’t play “Born to Run” because it’s been played too many times. (OK, it’s not a record, but I never caught the vinyl fever that some people, who came after records gave way to CDs, inexplicably catch.)
That is to be expected, though, when you spend most of your time working and this space is largely off limits to work and national headlines that are outside my expertise. On that note, I promise this: No more Trump-related or presidential election pieces for the foreseeable future.
Did you catch that? I just did it again. How many times have I talked about the loose parameters I use to confine this column? Too many, at least in my mind. And I suspect some of you — maybe all of you — who read this regularly are catching on to the repetition.
However, I always enjoy the opportunity to speak with groups who might not be as up to speed on what goes on in this space and the rest of these pages. (In keeping with the theme of identifying areas I could do better in, outreach is certainly one of them.)
I was lucky enough to have this opportunity Tuesday at the weekly Kiwanis Club of the Grand Valley/Parachute meeting. I knew some of the faces in the audience; mostly people who are heavily engaged in the community and consequently crossed paths with me along the way.
It also was a chance to meet some new people, people who are committed to a club that does some wonderful work for western Garfield County — college scholarships, youth outreach, charitable giving and the annual Colorado River Scramble Golf Tournament, to name a few.
It’s always interesting to attend these community group meetings in a non-work capacity. It certainly didn’t feel like work and I’m especially grateful for the offer to join the club. For any club members reading this, I plan on looking into a membership when I’m in Glenwood in the coming days.
Aside from shaking hands and sharing laughs, I stood up and gave my spiel about who I am, what I do, how to get engaged, and so on.
In doing so, I shared several encounters related to this job that have happened in the past couple of weeks — neither of them at Tuesday’s meeting.
The first being a woman who shared an eminent domain issue from years ago that involved her family’s property upvalley. As best I could surmise, she thought I might be interested in a big story, to which I replied that her story is out of my coverage zone, which is large enough without straying into Aspen land issues. After asking if she had gone to some of the papers upvalley, she told me they, or at least one paper in particular was in on it.
I’m still not entirely sure what “it” was, but this is generally the part of the conversation where I tend to be less receptive. I do not know the circumstances of her situation, but when there appear to be personal issues involved and allegations of a media cover up, red flags pop up.
I’ll acknowledge that my newspaper days are sparse, but I have never encountered a situation where there were internal efforts to squash a story. Period. Further, none of my acquaintances or colleagues have ever shared stories of this happening in their careers — some of which span more decades than I’ve been alive.
I say this not as a complete dismissal of such occurrences ever happening. One need to look no further than what has happened at the Las Vegas Review-Journal in the last two months or so since billionaire Sheldon Adelson purchased the paper.
You can Google search Adelson and the name of the paper to get up to speed, but here is an excerpt from a Politico piece published on Feb. 4:
“A new publisher has appeared overnight at the paper, a new editor will be installed as soon as Friday, and, sources tell me, stories involving new owner Sheldon Adelson are being reviewed, changed or killed almost daily.”
In pointing this out, I am entirely comfortable is stating this is the exception, not the rule. Contrary to what some think, when we don’t write a story that you want us to write it’s not because there is a conspiracy within the organization to leave something in the dark.
This takes me to another job-related saying that I’ve come across numerous times: The terrifically insulting tendency to toss around “Watergate” as the measuring stick for journalistic endeavors.
To be clear, Watergate was a major political scandal involving criminal wrongdoing at the highest level of government. It’s probably not appropriate to invoke this when discussing the lack of affordable housing and a hoped for story on the subject.
At the most basic level, I spend my days in meetings and talking with people to try and learn what is happening in our communities, why it’s happening, and how it will impact you — all with the goal of sharing what I learn with you, the reader, so that we are all knowledgeable and can make informed decisions.
It is that simple.
Ryan Hoffman is engaged in a grand cover-up scheme involving a scratch on his forehead presumably from his girlfriend’s cat. You can contact him at 970-685-2103 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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