I had other plans for June, but June had other plans for me, as well as for literally millions of people around the world.
I live in the Grand Valley, but I didn’t grow up here. I moved here just over a year ago, but I also lived here from 2006-2009. At the time there thrived an independent daily paper, the Grand Junction Free Press, for which I wrote a weekly column. Sadly, like so many other independent newspapers around the country and the world, the Free Press was forced to close five years ago, the victim of changes in how the public consumes its media. I wasn’t here anymore by the time the Free Press had to shut its doors and print its last issue, but I still mourned it from afar. The editor with whom I worked, Josh Nichols, is still a friend, although he no longer lives in the Valley, and I have so many fond memories of working with him to publish my essays and also work on other stories that we felt needed to be told about the people of the Grand Valley.
I had other plans for June, and starting a new media outlet in the Grand Valley wasn’t one of them. But with the crises that have engulfed the nation, especially the death of George Floyd and the ensuing protests and vigils that have erupted in nearly every major city — including many cities overseas — I felt compelled to root out the stories of other, disenfranchised, disempowered, marginalized, and oppressed communities. I’ve attended protests and have donated more than I probably should to various nonprofits and political campaigns, but like many I’ve wanted to contribute so much more. I can’t attend all the protests, and I only have so much money, but I can write. I can write well. I have a pretty good smartphone with a decent camera, and like many people who have journalism in their blood, I have the gene that compels me to run towards newsmaking events, rather than away from them. I’ve witnessed a peaceful revolution that ousted a military dictatorship (Manila, 1986), as well as coup d’etat (Manila, December 1989). I happened to be in New Delhi the day that the country erupted in a wave of protests, lockdown, and violence during the Gujarat riots, sparked when nearly 60 Hindus were killed on a train as they returned from a pilgrimage. I was in Tanzania a few months after 9/11, when rumors were rampant that Osama bin Laden was in the country. (To be clear, these rumors were repeated in nearly every country I visited that year, except for Australia.)
This is all to say that stories about the human condition are my passion, and moreso when they’re stories by people who otherwise don’t have access to traditional news outlets, or who don’t trust them enough to share those stories.
There will be folks who will claim that what’s happening in Minneapolis, Denver, Atlanta, New York City, Los Angeles, DC, and elsewhere isn’t happening here. If it’s so important, the other, bigger, better funded paper would cover it, right? If you really think that, this new paper is just for you.