September 24, 2010

After looking back, NCBR looks to future

They say that as far as the average person can tell, history begins with his or her birth. If we don’t see it with our own eyes – and sometimes even if we do – there’s always the faint possibility that maybe an event didn’t happen the way we heard it, or at all.

On one end of the spectrum of disbelief are things like your mom ever looking good in a miniskirt and go-go boots, no matter what your dad tells you. On the other end are those who deny the moon landing or the Holocaust really happened, no matter how much documentation is presented.

And somewhere in the middle is where journalists live. The best of us are natural-born skeptics, always trying to look behind the curtain just because someone told us not to. But most of us are willing to believe that the truth is out there, somewhere. It may not be our job to put all the pieces together to solve the ultimate puzzle, but it is our job to make sure we uncover as many of those pieces as we can. If we’re really good, we’ll get all the corners and straight edges linked up for historians who have the luxury of time to assemble the entire jigsaw, eventually.

On a daily basis, we are navigators, attempting to triangulate the truth that exists in the spaces shared by different points of view. We try to chart a course to what really happened by following a trail of breadcrumb-facts, using what skills we have to sort them from crummy factoids. As business journalists, we also follow the money, sometimes finding unexpected answers to the question we always ask: “cui bono?”

And we work out there on the wire in front of an uncertain audience. How many of you would be willing to put your name on everything you do during an average work week, then present it for public scrutiny? Would you be willing to add your e-mail address and phone number? Just asking for pain, isn’t it? As an article of faith, we invite it. Why?

Because somebody has to.

The toxic combination of total anonymity plus a global audience has spawned legions of semi-professional online commenters pushing their agendas aggressively, ruthlessly, rudely and mostly unencumbered by the higher thought process. The relentless bile has driven more thoughtful dialog elsewhere. We’re still trying to locate it, exactly, but that’s our role in this 21st-century democracy.

Played our part

For the past 15 years, the Northern Colorado Business Report has played its part by bringing useful, entertaining, in-depth and sometimes hard-hitting news and information to the business community in Larimer and Weld counties. At times it seemed there would be no limit to the growth of either the region or the newspaper; at others, it seemed we were all on a fool’s errand, slogging through one economic downturn after another and never quite coming together to achieve the regional potential NCBR‘s founders and editorial writers have encouraged since the beginning.

Newspapers may eventually go the way of buggy whips and vacuum tubes – heck, this print newspaper may disappear someday, just not today, thanks – but the need for accurate reporting and clear and vigorous communication won’t. In fact, as the tide of unexamined information rises ever higher, stuffing our inboxes with spam and our brains with unfiltered blog rants, the need for the unbiased observer, the traffic cop at the intersection of Fact and Opinion, grows more critical. Unfortunately, the optimistic assumptions of our youth – “good ideas always drive out bad” and “information wants to be free” – could be headed for a massive pileup in the middle of Reality and Economics.

All we can do is keep our eyes on the road and hands on the wheel and hope we have enough creative gas in the tank to detour around it. Because we would be missed if we quit doing what we do the very best way we know how, even if we say so ourselves.

But wherever the Business Report and its hard-working, dedicated, fiercely devoted staff wind up practicing their craft in the next 15 years, it will have been my privilege and honor to have shared part of the wild ride into the new millennium.

Kate Hawthorne has been editor of the Northern Colorado Business Report since March 2008. She has read every issue ever printed for this anniversary project and may never compile another timeline as long as she lives.

They say that as far as the average person can tell, history begins with his or her birth. If we don’t see it with our own eyes – and sometimes even if we do – there’s always the faint possibility that maybe an event didn’t happen the way we heard it, or at all.

On one end of the spectrum of disbelief are things like your mom ever looking good in a miniskirt and go-go boots, no matter what your dad tells you. On the other end are those who deny the moon landing or the Holocaust really happened, no matter…

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