BARBWIRE BOB – 6-23-22


I enjoyed visiting with my three daughters and son on Father’s Day.  ! am blessed to have four wonderful children who have grown to be successful, talented, and caring adults.  All live in the area, and their mother and I enjoy their company, along with keeping track of our two grandchildren, who are super busy building careers and a third one, who will be a senior in high school next year seeking out college opportunities.

While all four of our children have been involved in the publishing business, my grandchildren have “left the farm,” so to speak and are pursuing other occupations.  One possible reason for this is that they witnessed their parents and grandparents working 7/24 in the newspaper business and chose to pursue other careers.  Believe me, the news business is a demanding lifestyle of writing stories, going to meetings, taking messages, and staying abreast of current events.  Most of our readers have no idea what it takes to round up news on a short deadline and publish it all correctly on deadline. I’ve loved the business for over 6 decades and I like the involvement with people from all walks of life. 

Newspapers record and write history as it happens, witnessing the events and writing about the people involved.  We have bound volumes of all the newspapers that we have every printed in our long careers.  In my hometown of Craig, the volumes have been given to the local museum.   

In Gilpin County, where we own and operate the oldest newspaper in Colorado, started in 1862, the newspaper volumes are stored safely in mayor Spellman’s office, never to leave the county. The “ancient” documents contain some of the best history about early-day history when we were just a Kansas territory.  Gold was discovered in 1859, and miners arrived by the thousands seeking fortunes. Early-day newspapers flourished, but only the Weekly Register-Call remains as a historic treasure.  News reports last week relate that The Pueblo Chieftain, the oldest daily newspaper in Colorado, started in 1867, was closing it’s printing plant and would print at the Denver Post plant.  They currently print 72 publications who will have to relocate to the few remaining newspaper print sites.  This may impact some of the Colorado Media publications that print in Pueblo.  We print our newspapers in Berthoud that is the Loveland press operated by Prairie Mountain, a division of The Denver Post.

In the old days newspapers would run news from the little communities in the circulation territory.  The news items were sent to the newspaper by rural, resident reporters who knew what was happening, who went to town, who had Sunday dinners, who got married, and who died.  These items were printed under the headings, Maybell News, Lay News, Hamilton News, Baggs Wyoming News, et. al.  It all came together when the editor read the letters and gave them to the linotype operator, who would set the stories in lead type and prepared the pages for the newspaper printing press. 

After the Watergate scandal, and the rise of investigative reporting, news focused more on government and less on Sunday dinners, and who went to town on Saturday afternoons.   Hungry for local news, it gave rise to talk radio and eventually the rise of social media that we live with today.

Being somewhat old-fashioned at our newspapers we still like to cover events and report on local people.  Obituaries about friends and neighbors are also appreciated by family and friends. Did you ever think about the fact that newspapers report on your birth and your death?  That’s quite a responsibility and it’s been said with some truth “That is the only time you want your name to appear in print.”  However, mainly that applies to police reports. Otherwise, our news stories adorn many refrigerator doors and scrapbooks to this day.  The printed word lasts forever and is not going away, even with the world of technology.

Some years back a young lady called me to ask not to print her name in the police report on a minor traffic incident.  “Please don’t print my name in the paper she said, “my dad doesn’t know about the ticket.”  What she didn’t know is that we didn’t print minor’s names anyway, but I agreed to not print her name if she would tell her father about the incident.  She agreed, and her name never appeared. 

Another incident occurred in Hayden, Co. where our editor of the Hayden Valley Press went elk hunting out of season with some friends.  Back in the 1960s it was not a heinous crime like today. They were successful and were apprehended by a game warden with a minor fine, but a news story.  My guilty editor asked that we leave it out of the newspaper, I responded, “No Nick, not only that, but we’re going to put it on the front page for all to see.  You are not above the law.” Where have we heard that phrase recently?

He was angry about the decision, but the story appeared in his hometown paper.  He framed the story and placed it on the wall above his desk.  Down through the years, when someone didn’t like a story or wanted it out of the newspaper, he would point to the story on the wall and say, “No dice, what was good enough for me is good enough for you.”  He thanked me in time for the decision and the story quickly went away.  Transparency in the news business is essential for all.  Local newspapers have always been the best source for accurate news reporting because we’re part of the community.   Today, with so many sources of information, it is difficult to sort fact from fiction.  I worry about what will happen if newspapers disappear and only Facebook, blogs, and social media continue with personal bias and opinions.  News sources have become partisan and fragmented.

I had one other experience in my old hometown of Craig, where I cut my teeth in the newspaper world.  The week of Christmas, I had a call from a weeping woman.  The wife of a male classmate of mine had drifted into alcoholism leaving his wife and two children in poverty.  She related that she had been apprehended at the local grocery store stealing toys for her children. The report arrived from the local police report, but I didn’t print her name. I still feel good about that decision, right or wrong.  In small towns one’s name and reputation mean a great deal.   

Father’s Day is a time to remember family and friends.  It is a great day to honor fathers and share family time together.