June 18, 2010

Former managing editor returns to reporting

Some longtime readers of the Northern Colorado Business Report may know this is my second tour with the paper, to use an old military term.

I was recruited (another military term) by former editor Tom Hacker to be managing editor in the fall of 2000 and continued in that capacity until September 2004. During those four years the paper went through a bit of a rollercoaster ride, with the relatively good economic times of the late 1990s suddenly giving way to a recession caused by the events of 9/11, and then – slowly – back to good times again.

It was not my first experience as a managing editor. That came at my hometown newspaper back in Iowa right out of Iowa State University journalism school. When my family and I moved to Colorado in 1982, I got a job as a reporter at the now-defunct Triangle Review newspaper in Fort Collins. That later turned into a managing editor position that I held until 1987, when I began an 11-year stint as a reporter with the Coloradoan

An invitation to join my wife in her digital photography business and a desire to take a break from journalism led to two years as a self-employed, husband-and-wife-team of entrepreneurs. But when I got the chance to become part of the Business Report team, I was ready to take it.

During that first tour, I learned how to herd cats – or is it chickens? – as a managing editor again. I’d never before had so many freelance writers to assign stories to and then make sure something usable came back from them on deadline. It was funny to me at the time that I could be assigning all these stories to so many people whom I had never met face-to-face.

They knew a bit more about me, with my photo in the paper on a regular basis, but I couldn’t pick them out of a police lineup if my life depended on it. I remember several times we talked about having a picnic or party so we could invite them all and finally get to see what they looked like, but that never happened.

Still, it was fun because they were mostly all good, reliable reporters who didn’t give me too many heart attacks by missing deadlines or totally missing the point of their assignments.

Launch of Poudre

The other highlight of my first tour was launching Poudre Magazine, a quarterly outdoors-and-recreation-oriented publication that began on high hopes but eventually foundered and vanished from the local journalism scene. The first issue came out in the summer of 2001, and two more came out after I left.

It was a pretty cool magazine, and several colorful covers are on display here at the Business Report – daily reminders of those seemingly long-ago days. I think it was a publication that may have simply been ahead of its time, and one of these days we may see a similar format come along that does succeed. But as with anything print-related, it can only be successful against the background of a solid local economy with lots of advertising dollars to spread around. And now there’s the additional challenge of online competition.

My second tour at the Business Report began in the fall of 2006. Again, it was editor Tom Hacker who recruited me to come back and fill an open reporter position. This time I would only have to write and not deal with the stress of assigning and editing stories. I thought it sounded good, and it has been.

For the past three-plus years, I’ve specialized in health care and agribusiness but actually cover many, many topics as part of the small editorial staff.

When I look back on my journalism career in Northern Colorado, it sometimes boggles my mind how long I’ve been writing about this area. It’s going on 28 years – through the Triangle Review, Coloradoan and now two Business Report tours.

In those years, I’ve gotten to know a lot of the players and issues that flavor this part of the world. It’s been a fun journey and continues to be.

I was recently thinking about what it is that I really do, and I came to the conclusion that I’m actually an historian (precise grammar be damned) because I’m helping to document – through one publication or another – the unfolding story of this region.

Someday future generations will call up stories written about this area and see my name attached to some of them.

And I’ll be remembered.

That sounds good.

While researching the 20th anniversary of the Anheuser-Busch Fort Collins brewery in 2008, Steve Porter discovered stories under his byline in the public records.

Some longtime readers of the Northern Colorado Business Report may know this is my second tour with the paper, to use an old military term.

I was recruited (another military term) by former editor Tom Hacker to be managing editor in the fall of 2000 and continued in that capacity until September 2004. During those four years the paper went through a bit of a rollercoaster ride, with the relatively good economic times of the late 1990s suddenly giving way to a recession caused by the events of 9/11, and then – slowly – back to good times again.

It was not…

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