By Don Nelson
The Methow Valley News “family” lost a couple of its best and brightest this week with the retirement of office manager Marilyn Bardin — who has been training News publishers for more than 20 years — and advertising manager Robin Doggett, who is leaving to spend more time developing her print studio, Door No. 3, after more than a decade at the newspaper. Monday (June 30) was the last day here for each of them.
That is a lot of experience, wisdom, energy and collegiality to lose in one day. Since the minute I got here, Marilyn has been the friendly force that kept things operating — always cheerful, always generous, always wisecracking, always totally on top of things. I would have been lost without her. My significant other, Jacqui, called Marilyn the “second-most important woman” in my life (I know my mother reads this column, so I need to point out that moms are in a separate, non-ratable category).
Robin is possibly the most competent sales and marketing person I’ve ever worked with, handling an incredibly difficult job with grace, creativity and exceptional professionalism. Like Marilyn, Robin was an ambassador to the community whose impact was immeasurable.
They will be missed, and we wish them the best. At the same time, change and transition create opportunities for organizations large and small. Through the turnover on our staff during the past year, we have been fortunate to fill openings with great people who have terrific abilities and — perhaps just as important — personalities that mesh well with our little group.
I’m marking another milestone this week: on the Fourth of July, I will have owned the News for three years. I’ll be quietly celebrating what I call my “personal independence day,” with no small amount of irony because since then, I’ve been learning the meaning and value of interdependence every day.
The Methow Valley continues to be an ever-unfolding discovery for me. The past three years have gone by quickly, and in some ways I feel like I just got here — there is so much more to learn about the people, history and traditions that hold this community together. Thanks to everyone out there for their support during this ongoing adventure.
Grist will be missed
The Grist, Methownet’s online “community journal,” closed down this week after three years of operation. I absorbed the news with mixed emotions.
The passing of another news organization, even one that you compete against, is not cause for joy — it just means that another journalistic voice is quieted while the harsh babble of spurious “information” grows ever louder around us, and that a few more of our peers are out of work.
I always thought of The Grist as a friendly competitor — in a small community, one hopes that “friendly” remains the operative relationship — but a competitor nonetheless, pursuing the same eyeballs and advertising dollars that the News does in a place where there is a limited number of both.
Of course, some local writers have worked for both organizations simultaneously — which would be unthinkable in a larger journalistic arena — and I doubt that many valley residents saw us as anything other than cohabitants in the Methow’s cozy little media landscape.
Everybody in the News office will tell you that I periodically groused about The Grist — not because they were competing, but because they were good at it. The Grist had experienced journalists like Karen West and Solveig Torvik who know how to identify, pursue and deliver a good story. Whenever they got a story that I thought the News should have had, I fumed a bit.
Don’t misunderstand me — that’s a good thing. Competition should keep you more keen and focused, more aware of and responsive to what’s going on around you. If you care about covering your community, you should care about what the “other guys” are doing. I’ve worked in some of the fiercest competitive environments in the country, and am a better journalist for it. I suspect I’ll miss the pressure of wondering what The Grist is up to.