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This week marks the 197th issue published under Solas (which means “light” in Irish Gaelic) Publications, Inc. That’s 197 weeks of tracking down news, finding reporters to cover stories, sitting through meetings, taking pictures and videos, updating the website, building ads, selling ads, and all the rest of the labor of love that goes into keeping a 135-year-old county newspaper thriving and relevant in an ever-changing media landscape.
During those 197 weeks, we’ve had some unfathomable crises and some wonderful joys, personally and professionally.
In the last month, unanticipated awards from the Colorado Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Carolyn C. Mattingly Award for Mental Health Reporting from the National Press Foundation have been received with tears and tremendous gratitude.
The validation of work done has been almost better than a vacation. (My husband will disagree.)
This week I am honored and privileged to announce more awards: 10 awards in advertising and editorial in the Colorado Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest for 2019, and the Service to the First Award. See Page 2A for details.
Two years ago I sat at a table at the Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs and listened to then-governor Hickenlooper talk about the critical work of journalism in protecting and guaranteeing our First Amendment rights to a free and unfettered press as he presented the 2018 Service to the First award to the very-deserving staff at the Pagosa Springs Sun.
In 2019, Susan Greene of the Colorado Independent was the award recipient for her tireless efforts to obtain public records that went all the way to the Supreme Court. At the time I had no idea we would be working together a few months later, or that I would be able to count her as a colleague, mentor, and friend.
This year’s Colorado Press Association convention was supposed to be held in Glenwood Springs (my hometown), where I was once threatened with expulsion from high school my senior year for publishing a column in the high school newspaper exposing the school board’s intention to spend thousands of dollars on new sports equipment while the students in graduation-required history and government classes were sharing ratty textbooks because there weren’t enough to go around.
Receiving the Service to the First award at the Hotel Colorado would have been pretty damn cool. Instead, thanks to COVID-19, I got the news during a Zoom party with a handful of fellow Western Slope independent newspaper folks I am privileged to count as friends and colleagues.
In this week’s issue you’ll see a story about wildland fire season written by a reporter for the Sopris Sun in Carbondale. We’re learning to work together for the good of our readers and the public, who need quality information.
I’m really bad at “tooting my own horn” (I’m much better at beating myself up), but I think our readers deserve to know the work your local paper is doing is being recognized and acknowledged, statewide and nationally. Thank you Caitlin, Lucas, Tiffany, Mike, Joe, Roxie, Brett, David and Paige. And a huge thank you to Susan.
And thank you to our subscribers and advertisers and donors for your continued support of independent, local journalism. We appreciate you!
By Niki Turner | firstname.lastname@example.org