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 few kicks left after all

Some days I feel like a dinosaur; we all know how their story ended. Not just due to age, but my chosen profession just keeps getting gloomier as it seems headed toward extinction.

Most people probably know journalism is anything but a high-growth occupation. Declining revenue and what seems like more and more bottom-line-focused hedge fund owners do not paint a rosy picture for those of us in the news media.

Thousands of reporters, photographers, copy editors and other positions have been eliminated over the last decade. News outlets have closed down, leaving what some call a “news desert” in the communities they formerly served and kept informed.

A few bright spots surface here and there, Continue reading “A few kicks left after all”

History can be a blast

One of the things I’ve always tried to keep in mind as a journalist is the role the profession plays in recording history. That sounds a little high and mighty, doesn’t it? But in a lot of cases, it’s true.

News by definition is something out of the ordinary, the unexpected, the tragic. Yes, it can also mean something interesting without any of the more “hard news” aspects as a story. Feature stories fall into that category. Telling how something happened that may not have affected thousands or millions of people, the planet or any other species we share the earth with can still be important and worth reading.

I recently spent a lot of time looking back at some local history. Where I live on Colorado’s Front Range, Continue reading “History can be a blast”

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”

You and I don’t communicate any more

If the internet and social media are so fast, why does it seem like it takes us longer and longer to communicate?

That conundrum, if you will, struck me some time ago, when I received an email from a friend I’ve known since junior high school. (Guess you can tell how old I might be, right? You don’t hear “junior high” much anymore, it’s been “middle school” for some time.) We’ve stayed in touch off and on over the years, but not regularly. I lived on the opposite side of Colorado, so it wasn’t like we could meet for dinner or drinks whenever we felt like getting together.

But despite the ability to immediately respond to my friend, I did nothing. For days Continue reading “You and I don’t communicate any more”