Column: Hello — and a request — from your new editor
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Grand County, it’s time I introduce myself. I’m the new editor of the Sky-Hi News, and I have been for a month or so. But my roots in this valley date back two decades. Like so many before me, they started to form the first time I crested Berthoud Pass, blinded by a blizzard in a rented sedan. I’d come on the recommendation of a friend, and was about to have my entire life change.
The first winter I was here, in 1997, my lone mission was to become a skier. That I did, logging day after day at Winter Park and Mary Jane, and more and more frequently at Berthoud Pass. Out of luck one morning, I saw a boy I’d known in Alaska in the parking lot. He skied. We skied. We skied together and fell in love. That summer and the one after, we left for jobs in Alaska. But in the fall of 1999, I’d become certain that I wanted to be a professional writer.
So upon our return, I waltzed into the Winter Park Manifest office and told good old Harry Williamson I’d write an outdoor column. Beyond my wildest dreams, he accepted. That night, I bought the most expensive bottle of wine I ever had: $9, and as I recall, some pretty crappy merlot. But I had started my career at Grand County papers and would stick with it until the winter of 2004.
First it was just the column; then I started writing for the Sky-Hi and Patrick Brower. I credit him for teaching me to be a journalist, which also taught me to trust my instincts. I was a still a skier first and foremost, but my urge to write was growing. So I applied for a job as an editor at Skiing Magazine, and that took my husband, two small boys and me to Boulder County, where I worked at Skiing first, and then at Backpacker, and later wrote a book, worked at other magazines, taught writing, produced radio stories, did a TedX talk, and became a full-time magazine freelancer.
It’s been a phenomenal 22 years full of so many opportunities and wild adventures, but all along, my many friends, the outdoor opportunities, and the big sky, soaring peaks, wild rivers, and stories about a county in flux have held my interest and made me want to return to Grand County. So when the job as editor of the paper came open, I applied, thrilled at the chance to run a mountain-county newsroom.
It’s been both a shock to my system and one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever had in these six weeks since I started. I’m sure you’ve witnessed my mistakes — a personal favorite: the word “fist” instead of “first” in the first sentence of the front page story about San Util Design. But I’m proud of other stories: about wolves, Rainbows, Schelly Olson, Paizley White and others.
Going forward, things will just get better. I’m lucky to have a stellar stable of freelancers, including one who just signed on to work for the paper part-time (I’ll let her introduce herself next week). We have some super-promising college grad candidates as well: crossing my fingers for one who wrote a feature-length story about a mysterious pile of dirt. Mostly, I am just happy to back in a place I love, doing what I love, in a community that I’ve loved for nearly half my life.
I expect putting out the paper with our tiny staff will continue to have a few bumps (at least for a while). But it at least feels like we’re staring to figure it out — especially when it comes to learning about the county’s most pressing and important issues. Those are the stories I want to cover regularly, and in detail. Like the biggest, most prestigious papers, I want to write stories that entertain you, educate you and enlighten you.
To that end, I ask of you a favor. Please tell me what you want us to cover. I’m an open book at the moment, or rather a sponge, soaking in as much of Grand County as I can. But as this is a community paper, I want to cover what the community wants me to. I’m sure we’ll deviate from that as well. But let’s move forward into a new future for the Sky-Hi News with the mission of working together to create a stellar paper.
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