Letter from the Editor: Thank you, Kemmerer

My father is a Kemmerer native. My childhood was filled with tales about him growing up as the son of a coal miner in a town that seemed a whole lot like Mayberry — but maybe with a few more bars.   

So, when the editor position here found its way to me, it just seemed right. I had visited this area several times as a kid, but the idea of actually living in the Cowboy State seemed mythical. I half expected Sheriff Walt Longmire to pull up in his Bronco at any moment.

I have sincerely enjoyed being the editor of the Gazette for the past two years.

When I came to town, I was a 21-year-old who had graduated from college the week before. Many of you wondered why I was here. What to make of this young reporter nosing around? Does she really have to be at every meeting? Ask those annoying questions? Take all of those photos? Some of you may still be wondering. So I’ll tell you.

Reporting in a small town (especially as an “outsider”) is unique in its challenges and rewards.

At larger news organizations, a reporter may interview a source and never see them again. Here, I run into the subjects of my articles at football games, at church, in the milk aisle at the grocery store. You tell me what you think about the newspaper, and you don’t hold anything back. Thank you. You’ve helped make our newspaper better.

It’s easy for reporters to drop in on an issue, report about it and then skip town. But every day I get a front-row seat to this community’s successes and concerns — not just because I have to write about them, but because they are my successes and my concerns.

I have learned the important and even sacred responsibility a small-town editor has to her readers: to get it right. It matters that the real story gets told, whether that story is about the high school football team making the playoffs or the coal miners’ union fighting for healthcare.

Thank you for trusting me to tell these stories.

There’s a lot of talk today about the “decline” of local journalism. It’s difficult for a small staff to create a print product while also keeping up an online and social media presence. But when you read a local newspaper, you’re supporting your neighbors and exercising your right to know what’s happening in your community. The only way we have a newspaper is if people read it — so thank you for reading! 

This newspaper has been a part of the community for more than 100 years. I used to have nightmares about ruining that legacy, but then I realized that I don’t have to do it all by myself. In this job I interact with community members who volunteer their time and talents to make this community better. Council and board members, coaches, small business owners — they all make sacrifices to keep the town (and the paper) running. 

I can’t thank Rose enough for being the glue that holds the paper together. And Michelle, who reminds me to find joy in what I do. I look up to both of these strong women who make the newspaper successful. Another big thanks to Kae, Mark, Bryon and Cortney, for giving this young journalist a chance.

So, thank you to the residents of Kemmerer and Diamondville for allowing me to bug you for interviews and photos. Thank you for reading the Gazette. Thank you for letting me be a part of this special place.


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