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Aldrich poses alongside City of Roses' Richard Meeker in June, 1997.

Wrestling toward the Truth

Former publisher reflects on leadership, letters and lowriders

June 25, 2014, 12:00 am

When I first arrived in Santa Fe in 1978 to work for Richard McCord as a news writer I quickly felt at home. I thrived on the diversity of my new community and the variety of my assignments; one week investigating the city’s sole ambulance service, whose equipment fell deplorably short of state requirements; another covering the local furor over the Friday night ritual of lowriders circling the Plaza with blaring radios.

Ten years later, when I acquired the Reporter from Dick, he had led it to distinction in investigative reporting. I wanted to maintain those standards. But I also set a new goal: I believed the paper now needed to be integrated more intimately into the entire community, bringing a broad range of new voices to speak out on our pages and allowing all of us to listen to one another.

"we tried our best to maintain a balance between the inevitability of change, and that which was fundamental to Santa Fe’s character."

In my first issue, I decisively stated these goals, and introduced two new weekly columns from local residents Orlando Romero and Jerry Ortiz y Pino. Soon after, we launched our Open Forum—a space available every week to a community member—to complain about what needed to change, demand righting a wrong, or celebrate what was best about Santa Fe. I also began writing a column of my own, called Take Five.

It gave me great personal satisfaction to watch our Letters to the Editor columns increase exponentially. I used to edit these myself and enjoyed placing the ones blasting me on top.

Over the years, our news pages dealt with multiple issues and causes, but my own objectives remained clear: to fight for the integrity of our community. These battles took many forms: fighting people determined to blight the beauty of our surrounding hilltops with mansions (despite prohibitive zoning), exposing out of state interests set to build a massive resort-golf complex in nearby Pecos Valley and persevering in our crusade backing both commercial projects and parklands on the Railyard acreage.

In our editorial positions, we tried our best to maintain a balance between the inevitability of change, and that which was fundamental to Santa Fe’s character.

This was no easy task. I could never have kept going without the talents and support of my excellent colleagues. I miss these fine people sorely. And I miss the countless friends I made all over town as we wrestled—and argued—our way toward balance and truth. It is a remarkable achievement that the Santa Fe Reporter has survived and thrived for 40 long years, and I am honored to have played a part in its history.

 

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