Newspaper-writing projects with deep research, stunning photos and spit-shined editing — I fondly remember those efforts when I worked at the Golden Transcript.
A top-flight series about water, another on high unemployment and a perky series titled Twelve Topics in Twelve Weeks quickly come to mind when faced with the prospect of writing a brief column in honor of the Transcript’s 150th anniversary.
So much great work comes to mind. For example, I will never forget prolific photographer Justin Sagarsee taking a “ride-along” to an extreme when he spent long hours with an unemployed man who had been living in his car for months. Sagarsee supplied a chilling photo essay showing what it’s like to be in another’s shoes, as he did so often.
As for me, I mostly worked the angles from the editor’s desk, but I was glad to cover the Jeffco school board from time to time.
One of my favorite moments occurred when school board president Dave Thomas said he would no longer follow a policy requiring questions to board members from the media be channeled through one assigned board member spokesman. He announced board members and media could converse freely and indicated further review of the defunct policy could wait.
Thomas took command because the situation did need to be walked back. I remember experiencing involuntary eye roll when I asked a board member during a meeting break to comment on something she had said a few minutes earlier, when she replied she wanted to follow the rules and have me log my follow-up questions with the spokesperson.
As it happens, the board had been taking heat from other media too, but I like to think two editorials I penned helped Thomas reach his tipping point. I wrote a third “Nice Move” to laud him for his leadership and highlight the importance of his action.
Newly elected officials sometimes want to operate like a private sector entity, channeling media requests strategically. This can be worked to a certain extent. However, all locally elected officials should be ready and willing to answer questions one-on-one from all citizens and media within a reasonable amount of time. Plain and simple.
In relation, I often noticed newly elected officials – like clockwork – question why public attendance at meetings is disappointing. Well, citizens are just plain busy. So that is why having the talented staffers at the Transcript take charge to cover news and government for readers is so important.
Author and columnist David Brooks wrote a pithy column I highly recommend titled “The Stem and The Flower” in 2013 about citizens’ involvement levels with and defining expectations of government.
“I figure that unless you are in the business of politics, covering it or columnizing about it, politics should take up maybe a tenth corner of a good citizen’s mind. The rest should be philosophy, friendship, romance, family, culture and fun,” Brooks wrote.
The gazillion pages of the Golden Transcript’s 150-year history illuminate a willingness to serve citizens’ minds, and I am honored to have been part of it.
Thanks and congrats to the Transcript and one heck of a town!
Mikkel Kelly was managing editor at the Golden Transcript from 2008 to 2015 and currently works at Community Reach Center in Westminster.