Editor’s Column: Odds and ends

This week’s front page was rough. Not just because I find fundraising campaigns difficult and awkward, but because it’s a terrifying reminder how close so many communities in our country are to having no source of local news. 

According to a report by Penelope Muse Abernathy, Knight Chair of Journalism and Digital Media Economics at UNC’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media, in the United States, “[m]ore than one in five papers has closed over the past decade and a half [as of 2018].” 

What’s to blame? Is it that people don’t care what’s going on with their local school districts, high school sports teams, municipal governments, and fellow citizens? I don’t think so. 

Advertising revenue—the primary source of funding for most newspapers — has been lost to social media and internet websites to the tune of billions of dollars a year. When revenue falls, staffing gets cut and coverage is reduced. All that online advertising may be cheap and easy, but like most things that are cheap and easy, there are unpleasant side effects.

The Colorado Media Project — a nonprofit organization that supports local journalism —  has put together a fundraising campaign for local newspapers. Donations made during the month of December will be matched by grant dollars through the Colorado Media Project, up to $5,000. We’re one of 26 newsrooms chosen to participate this year in Colorado. 

I’m going to date myself (Bartles & Jaymes wine cooler ads from the 1980s are  apparently imprinted on my DNA), but the sentiment is authentic: “Thank you for your support.” 

On another note, We’ve heard a lot of folks asking “where in the world is Commissioner Rector?” Rector has been noticeably absent from numerous county meetings for several months now. In the last regular meeting he did attend, he said he has been on “personal leave,” leaving some wondering what the rules are for elected officials when it comes to attendance requirements and paid leave. The HT reached out by phone and email this week, without response as of press time. We would encourage the absentee commissioner to let his constituents (and his fellow commissioners) know what’s up. 

On another note… After hearing plenty of rumors, news that Chevron has sold its Rangely interests to Scout Energy Management, headquartered in Texas, appears to be official as of this week. What this will mean for the Town of Rangely, to which Chevron has been a generous benefactor, remains to be seen. We’re working on tracking down details about the sale, and about the new owners.

By NIKI TURNER – editor@ht1885.com