Wednesday was my last day as editor of the White Mountain Independent.
As with all endings — and new beginnings — it’s a time of mixed emotions.
But there is one thing about which I am perfectly clear: I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to work with some very dedicated and talented people here at this newspaper.
First off, I had the humbling experience to act as editor to Jo Baeza, a great Arizona writer and a fellow Minnesota native. Jo reminded me to not take things too seriously, a tough order, but she was so right. (You do not make corrections to a Jo Baeza story.)
Her bravery, dedication to her craft and the good humor that carried her through to the end of her life were a deeply moving and inspiring gift to me — someone who was a new acquaintance.
In our newsroom, I had the great good fortune to work with two people dedicated to our community — Laura Singleton and Barbara Bruce. As a newcomer to the area, they helped me to understand the broader context of the community and they always knew the right people to call. They unwaveringly gave of their time on nights and weekends to complete story assignments, cover meetings, take photos of community events and respond to phone calls.
A community newspaper depends so much on people like Laura and Barbara, much more than most readers know.
You have to be curious to be a reporter, and willing to learn new things — no matter what what your starting point is. Reporters RT Lynch and Amber Shepard, who came on the staff over the past year, have both proven to be more than up to the task. RT is a retired judge and Amber recently accepted a scholarship to the University of Arizona Law School. It was a pleasure to work as their editor and help them learn the ropes.
Mike Leiby has constantly inspired me with his courage and humanity. Even after many years on the police beat, he still empathizes with the pathos of those who are victims of crime, and yet a laugh or a smile are never far away from him.
Staff from our sister paper, the Payson Roundup, Peter Aleshire and Michele Nelson have helped me out more times than I can count — taking on an extra story assignment, or even a demanding newsbeat. Their passion and understanding of journalism have made them an asset to the readers of White Mountains as well as Rim Country.
And that’s just the folks in the newsroom.
The hardworking people in advertising, graphic design, our administrative staff and circulation experts — deserve recognition too — you know who you are.
Just as there is no performance without an audience (as we’ve been bluntly reminded in this pandemic) there is no newspaper without readers. It’s the one co-dependent relationship that actually works.
So, I would like to thank all of readers too, I have tried to be fair, diligent in presenting the news — good or bad — that is of greatest importance to this community. I have appreciated your patience and goodwill.
Keep reading. The owners and the staff at the Independent will continue to strive to bring you the information you need at this critical time as neighbors and partners in the White Mountain community.
You can rely on them, just as I have.