Small town values are what we need now

Small towns are great communities. They come together in times of trouble, disaster and death. Just like families.

So it was nearly 20 years ago when I lived in Rifle, Colorado, a city of around 6,000 people at the time. The night before Independence Day 2001, Rifle was rocked by the senseless shootings of seven Latino residents by a white man with a long history of mental illness. Four of the victims died.

Steven Michael Stagner, then 42, did not know any of his victims, who ranged in age from 17 to 44. The tragedy was national news for a while.

I was reminded of something that happened days later Continue reading “Small town values are what we need now”

A welcome diversion in a time like this

I’m one of those people who’s career has been spent working alone most of the time. I quickly realized I thrive in isolation when it comes to going to meetings, making phone calls, meeting deadlines and all the other required tasks of a journalist.

So now in this time of pandemic self-isolation, I seem to have adapted pretty well. To be sure, I wish this novel coronavirus had never came to be. I just wanted to mention that my past — along with thousands, maybe millions of others — helped prepare me for this situation.

Shortly before the virus spread from China, Continue reading “A welcome diversion in a time like this”

Getting to some important stories

Every writer has been told at least once to “write what you’re passionate about.” I guess I’ve always been somewhat of an exception to that advice, although not really intentionally.

Another piece of advice along the same lines is to develop a niche, something you know very well and have been able to write about successfully. Back in the day, natural gas development was one of my niches. Not really by choice. The newspaper I worked for at the time had the bureau I worked in right in the middle of intense gas drilling. It made sense to focus much of my efforts on that topic.

I don’t live in the same area and haven’t written about natural gas in many years. Maybe some people Continue reading “Getting to some important stories”

Battling back to my passion

Detours. Roadblocks. Hurdles. Challenges. Life.

Whatever term you use, everyone has to deal with things that come up. A lot of times when they do, you have to slog through and continue to move in what you hope is a forward direction. But it can be hard.

I experienced — and am still experiencing — this over the last few months. My brother passed away in another state and I was appointed the personal representative to his estate. It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve had to undertake, Continue reading “Battling back to my passion”

I’m not an enemy of the people

Over the last year or so, I’ve often wondered what someone who isn’t a journalist thinks when their profession is repeatedly publicly ridiculed and vilified.

Law enforcement officers, lawyers and politicians would probably fall into that category. Those who work in these professions — and probably many others — as well as journalists have to have tough skins. They have to take criticism in stride and not let it stop them from doing their jobs to the best of their abilities.

For the most part, I’ve been able to keep moving forward in the face of criticism over the course of my journalism career, learning from my mistakes and taking steps to be a better writer and person. But when I heard about the shooting deaths of four journalists and a sales assistant Continue reading “I’m not an enemy of the people”