I thought Boulder Weekly was an important endeavor 25 years ago when it launched. And while I’m happy to say that I was right on that account and proud to have been around for that first edition, I’d be lying if I said I knew back then that BW would still be here and making a difference a quarter of a century later… but it is.
As I contemplate the reasons for our success, I keep coming back to one thing; you, our readers.
I knew from the beginning that we could inform and entertain folks in Boulder County, but I didn’t understand the kind of relationship that we would end up building with you over the years.
When I describe your level of engagement with this publication to my friends in the news business around the country, it is usually met with envy or disbelief. For most of them it has been a long time since a loyal reader walked up and offered to buy them a beer or asked them how they could help the subject of their last story or, as happens on occasion, called them a sorry SOB in the middle of a restaurant for something they wrote. Heck, that’s just another Thursday afternoon in Boulder County for me, and I couldn’t be more appreciative. Your engagement is the reason I’m still here and still love doing this job.
It is truly a gift to know that when we report a story, it makes a difference. Over the years we’ve prompted the cleanup of toxins on open space, forced crooked politicos to step down, uncovered threats to our children, caused laws to be written in the state legislature and warned you of any number of things that were threatening your health or quality of life.
We never forget that our first obligation is to be your watchdog, and if we ever did forget, I have no doubt that you’d remind us in short order.
Why do I think so highly of you folks? Let me count the ways.
When we wrote about a woman living in her car while undergoing chemo treatments, you gave her a roof over her head. When we wrote about a young orphan boy befriended by our reporter in a Bosnian war zone, one of you adopted that child. When we wrote of a homeless family trying to stay together against all odds, you sent us money to give them. When we told you about a man who needed a new kidney, several of you came forward and offered yours. And when we told you that an undocumented father and husband needed $10,000 to get health insurance, which would get him a temporary heart pump and put his name on the waiting list for a new heart that would save his life, you provided more than enough money to make that happen within a few short days.
Thank you for all that, and thank you for letting me have the best job in the world.
When we started this thing 25 years ago we were covering issues like growth, the environment, local and state politics while exploring every nook and corner of the arts and culture that define and nourish our communities. And while it was important work back then, I really believe it is even more so today.
The world is changing quickly and not always for the good. We are living in a time of idiocy wherein accurate, in-depth, explanatory journalism on every subject is being overwhelmed by an ocean of clickbait and partisan talking heads. The electorate is stuck in either a blue or red feedback loop that has resulted in our no longer voting for the things our nation needs but rather against certain people of positions that scare us. We are rapidly destroying our own planet while making silly partisan politics our top priority. It’s not a healthy or sustainable evolution of our democracy.
Fortunately, the independent ownership of this paper and our engaged, loyal readership have together made it possible for all of us at BW to continue to produce the kind of longform journalism that can cut through all the noise and hopefully make a difference when it comes to news and culture.
So let me just say thank you, people of Boulder County — readers and the members of the business community who make our jobs both possible and meaningful.
Here’s to the next 25 years. I hope our 50th anniversary finds the world less threatened by global warming, our broken political and health care systems, racism, internet disinformation and manipulation strategies, nationalism and an overall lack of concern for the least among us.
While I sure can’t guarantee a better world, I do promise that all of us at Boulder Weekly will do our best to give everyone the information they need to help bring about such change.