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In the 16 years I’ve been at the paper there is one particular complaint from readers that never seems to be satisfactorily resolved: Meeker coverage vs. Rangely coverage.
I heard a lot of that at Septemberfest this weekend.
I’ll admit, it often seems that Meeker gets the lion’s share of news. That’s partly because the newspaper office is in Meeker. It’s also because we need more Rangely folks to interact with the paper by sending in news tips and photos and so forth. In the 16 years I’ve been working here, not one editor has ever said “I just think we should ignore Rangely.” Or, “I just think we should ignore Meeker.”
But the balance of news coverage is just the tip of the iceberg. The complaints about Rangely coverage vs. Meeker coverage in the paper are a symptom of a bigger issue.
In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel “The Great Gatsby,” two neighboring communities are divided by “the Valley of Ashes.” In the story, East Egg represents “old money” and West Egg represents “new money.” Both communities have strengths and weaknesses based on location. There’s division and contention and competition between East Egg and West Egg, and it doesn’t benefit anyone. Sound familiar?
Rio Blanco County has two very different, equally amazing communities. Like East Egg and West Egg, each has strengths and weaknesses. What we tend to forget is that both towns are permanently linked. We’re all in the same county and so, in many ways, we are drawing from the same wells.
A wise woman I talked to on Sunday in Rangely said the two towns act like siblings, which makes perfect sense to me. I’m an only child, and when my own children were young I did not understand their constant conflict. I still don’t. I don’t understand when my grandkids fight with each other. My husband, who has siblings, says the way it works is that you fight like cats and dogs with each other until someone attacks one of your own and then you fight together against a common enemy.
In my opinion, that’s what Meeker and Rangely need to do: come together and fight for the future of our communities. Support each other’s endeavors. Celebrate each other’s successes.
My kids are all technically adults now and they are all quick to celebrate each other’s successes, commiserate over the hard times and support one another instead of being in perpetual combat. They share a lifetime built-in support system that I, as an only, will never have. It’s a precious thing, and so should the relationship between our two local towns be. Sure, we can do battle across the basketball court or the wrestling mat, just like my kids can still do battle over a board game or a water fight at a family party. But after that they’re all members of the same family with everyone’s best interests at heart.
That’s how we need to see our respective communities. Not as rivals, but as members of the same family.
This first official week of newspaper ownership has been quite the whirlwind. I’m not sure we could have picked a more challenging week to start.
Ordinarily, Mondays (and some Sundays) are spent compiling stories for that week’s paper. This week I spent Sunday and Monday in Rangely at Septemberfest, which was a joy all around. It was great to put faces to names I’ve been reading about or communicating with via email for all these years.
Then, Monday night, our stalwart sports reporter (among many other duties), Bobby Gutierrez, had some heart problems and had to go to St. Mary’s in Grand Junction. True to form (newspaper people are kind of like the mail carriers: they will get the paper out no matter what it takes), Bobby has been sending me photos and whatever else he can do from his hospital bed today. But if you notice his regular sports stories are missing from this week’s paper, it’s because he’s under the weather.
Thank you, Bobby, for your dedication and determination. Our prayers are with you for a speedy recovery!
I had my first editorial quandary this week. Some information has been flying around in Meeker regarding the upriver campgrounds. Rest assured, I have spoken with the folks in the Forest Service office in Meeker and in Glenwood Springs, and I’m working to get confirmed information from them. As soon as we have an official word on the situation, we will let you know what’s going on.
The same holds true with the other story ideas that have been passed along in the last few days, including the upcoming ballot issue in Dinosaur to permit marijuana sales and production.
And I’d like to congratulate the winners of our drawings from the Herald Times booth at Septemberfest. Annette Webber is the winner of the free print subscription, and Nichols Store is the winner of the $130 in free advertising. Congratulations and thank you for stopping by to chat with us on Monday!