My first job at the Santa Fe Reporter was as an unpaid intern in the early 1990s. I actually didn’t get the job the first go round, but I brushed off the rejection and, as soon as I saw the name of the person who had gotten the gig disappear from the masthead, contacted the editor and reminded him he’d said I was the second choice.
Intern turned into calendar editor, music editor and then staff writer. I came and went a few times during the decade—for grad school and another reporting job—but returned as a full-time staff writer in 1997. Three years later, I became editor, a job I held for close to 11 years.
I had the opportunity during my time as editor to work with many talented people. Dan Frosch, now a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, penned a 15-part series on private prisons, a series that received recognition from Investigative Reporters & Editors. Corey Pein, author of Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley, won SFR an award for multimedia journalism with his feature on wealth in Santa Fe. Dave Maass, now a senior investigate researcher at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, garnered accolades for his look at how Santa Fe would fare under a zombie attack.
But the decade was also one of massive changes in the newsroom, the most salient of which was the internet. I oversaw the launch of the Reporter's first website and its first forays into multimedia reporting. Then, as now, the Reporter's staff was small and hardworking, doing a lot with a little, and always with the mission of serving the community of Santa Fe.
The Reporter was founded in 1974 as part of a movement of alternative newsweeklies with a commitment to longer-form narrative journalism, muckraking and individual voice. Like all other print journalism outlets, alternative newsweeklies have suffered financially over the last decade and newspapers at the vanguard of the movement, such as The Village Voice, have closed. The financial challenges of print journalism have only tightened, and the need for local journalism has only grown stronger.
I spent the last seven years teaching journalism at Santa Fe University of Art and Design. The school's closure coincided with the Reporter's new nonprofit, the New Mexico Fund for Public Interest Journalism, and I have happily served as both president and mentor for the fund's intern training program. My early days as an intern fed my commitment to journalism, and I look forward to helping the next generation of journalists discover the rewards of telling stories that matter.
I plan to do the same, and will return to SFR next month to regularly write about community and technology, while also plunging into a political season in which we—by which I mean voters, Santa Feans and anyone paying the slightest attention to the world—need all hands on deck.
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