Twenty years after I gave birth to The Independent, the weekly newspaper in Edgewood and I are finally cutting our ties.
For me, it is a bit like a mother seeing a doctor snip the umbilical cord that tied her to the baby she had carried. It’s more than a bit like the bitter-sweet taste of watching your child grow into an adult and leave home to lead his own life. You hope that the world will treat him kindly while fearing the turmoil and trauma that imperil life; but it’s all out of your hands now.
Over these 20 years, as publisher, editor and columnist, I’ve written more than a million words just in this Mountain Musing column, plus perhaps another million in articles in The Independent during the dozen years I was its editor.
Too many words. A river of words that flowed year after year across the landscapes and lives of what I dubbed the Tricounty area. I had to create the term for none previously existed.
It is an odd area made up of bits and pieces—Bernalillo County east of the mountains, Santa Fe County south of Santa Fe and Torrance County. All in all it’s an area that about 50,000 people call home.
Back in the summer of 1999, it had been my business plan to expand distribution of The Independent step by step until I was delivering a free copy of the newspaper to every home, office and shop in the Tricounty area. Within six months the brutal logic of printing and mailing costs overwhelmed that dream. Still, a different if more modest dream endures week after week.
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Today marks two significant events for The Independent family.
First, this is my last column for this newspaper. However, I am starting a blog wallygrdon.blogspot.com (the variant spelling is deliberate) that will continue to publish Mountain Musing with reporting, analysis and commentary, as well as fiction, poetry and travelogues. Plus thoughts that may on occasion be more controversial or less relevant to the Tricounty area than those that have usually appeared in the column in The Independent.
After all, writing for a small, rural weekly newspaper (in fact, writing for any publication) is always a balancing act and occasionally an act of self-censorship. What topics would interest or bore the readers? What reporting might so outrage some readers or advertisers that it would damage the newspaper that I only wanted to nourish? What style or content might alienate the very people with whom I was trying to communicate and empathize?
My intention has been to be simultaneously uncompromisingly honest and totally inoffensive, an oxymoron if there ever were one.
The second significant event is that The Independent’s longtime editor, Leota Harriman, is now its proud owner, free of the mortgage payments to me that have weighed heavily upon its finances. Over the years, Leota, showing grit, a grin and occasionally a grimace, and with the loyal support of her family, has persevered in the hard slog of publishing the newspaper every week, every year. Now that the paper is all hers she has an opportunity to use her added resources to do the kind of in-depth, hard-hitting journalism the community needs.
I wish her and The Independent all the best. Meanwhile I hope my longtime readers will continue to follow me at wallygrdon.blogspot.com.
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.