Opinion » Note

A Fond Farewell

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I'm not going to bury the lead: I'm leaving Boise Weekly to attend graduate school at Washington State University, effective Friday, June 9. By strange coincidence, it will be four years to the day since I packed up my life in northern Idaho and moved with my wife and then-14-month-old son to the Boise Bench.

Technically, I had been editor-in-chief of BW since January 2013, doing the job remotely from Sandpoint. It took six months to get everything together and, as BW owner and Publisher Sally Freeman put it in her note announcing my hire, "get [my] ass to Boise." Now my ass is leaving Boise, and it's bittersweet.

Much has changed in the four and a half years I've helmed the editorial side of the paper. A lot of names have come and gone from the masthead. The design, shape and size of the paper have morphed. We rolled out a new website, grew our online traffic and social media reach by orders of magnitude, and repositioned the paper toward hard news. We've won dozens of state and national awards for our reporting in that time, while navigating the fractured and increasingly challenging journalism landscape that affects our media colleagues nationwide. We've stumbled, fallen, published mea culpas and learned hard lessons—always working to improve as journalists and an organization.

Throughout this time, we’ve striven to remain an essential, vibrant, honest and independent voice for our community. We have succeeded, week in and week out, but these values have had little to do with me. The dedication of the entire staff—editorial, sales, administration and distribution—is at the core of this enterprise, which it has been the honor of my professional life to help tend. If you ever want to see a group of people who give their all for ideals higher than wealth or adoration, swing by BWHQ.

Much has changed for me, personally, too. In one of my 230-plus Editor’s Notes, I wrote Boise is one of the few cities where I’d want to raise my children. I came here with a 14-month-old and leave with a 5-year-old son and 2 ½-year-old daughter—the latter a native-born Boisean. For both, it will always be the scene of their early childhood. My wife found a rewarding and important career teaching English at Boise State University, and she leaves with the sadness of no longer working alongside her talented colleagues but the pride of knowing she helped educate hundreds of students.

Five years ago, I would have laughed should someone suggest I’d one day serve as editor of Boise Weekly—in another of those many Editor’s Notes, I mentioned I spent the better part of my adult life trying to get a job here. I will always work here (hopefully), in some way or another.

The great privilege of my departure has been Sally's willingness to let me pick my successor—my dear friend, auntie to my children, frequent confidante and the truest BW staffer who ever lived, Amy Atkins. Anyone who has picked up a copy of this paper in the past dozen or so years knows her name. There is, literally, no other person alive who could do a better job in the editor's chair. She's been my boss, I've been her boss and she'll be my boss again, as I continue to contribute to BW from afar, assist in copyediting and generally serve as a ghost in the machine.

I love this paper in a way people don't often get a chance to love an organization. It has been a great adventure, but it's time for a new one. If you don't know how lucky you are to have a media outlet such as this, you're about to find out. My hunch is that Amy will help take this paper to new heights.


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