Loose Ends: Some stories have front page appeal

Dolly Viscardi
I like the look of the Herald Times these days. The increase in stories featuring local folks gives readers a closer look at the unique people, places and events of the area. It is only through the stories of an area’s residents that the story of a community becomes common knowledge. Getting people involved in their community and interested in serving on local boards depends on this familiarity.
While some people want hard news and national news on the front page, there are those readers who prefer to get their national and international news from other types of media. Their view supports the need for a small town newspaper to reflect local tastes and interests.
Not long after moving to Meeker, I began to work part time at the paper. My college degrees in education didn’t help to find me a job, so I decided to see if I could find something to keep me busy. My new job of helping get the paper to press each week involved stints in the darkroom, typesetting, cutting and pasting the individual articles and ads (before the paper became computerized) and eventually reporting. While I had a passion for creative writing, I was a novice at writing news articles. The Piceance Basin was humming with activity and the editor found that covering energy development kept the full time staff busy.
My interest in stories featuring local people doing interesting things (or things that I found fascinating) gave me the opportunity to write weekly features and allowed me to meet so many more people than I would have ever had the opportunity to meet on my own. I started out covering the meetings no one else could cover that week — the school board, county commissioners or sanitation boards. I didn’t know shorthand, so my nearly illegible scrawl turned into a mixed cursive print jumble that sometimes eluded later deciphering. Sometimes when I was sitting in a meeting trying to jot down the salient points of their discussion, I would leave off many endings. I learned very quickly about the need for accuracy when someone would report back to the Herald that I hadn’t gotten it right somehow and demand a correction.
Former editor Jeff Burkhead’s inclusion of community photo spreads during the past few years was greatly appreciated by many in both communities. Recently, editor Bobby Gutierrez has reached out into the community and shared his interest in publishing more stories about local people by community residents. Native daughter Hallie Blunt has been getting out and covering human interest stories in the past few editions. Her knowledge and interest in the White River Valley helps her to come up with ideas for stories and write articles that keep those who live here interested in other community members.