Likewise, I extend great thanks to Dan Njegomir and his successor as editorial page editor at the Gazette, Sean Paige, who over many years provided me an endless supply of marvelous material in my self-adopted role as the Independent's media and politics watchdog. Like many, I have never been able to combat the temptation of routinely subjecting myself to the train wreck that is the daily newspaper's myopic editorial worldview.
Yes, with those guys in charge, life was beautiful if you happened to be in the media critique business. Would Njegomir personally attack, without provocation, some poor schmoe who submitted a letter to the editor that Njegomir didn't agree with? (The answer was "Yes!") Would Paige engage in unceasing public alpha-dog fights with then-City Manager Lorne Kramer, accusing him of throwing a tantrum, misusing public resources and being an inept manager? ("Yes!")
Njegomir and Paige are now gone from the Gazette, and after this week, I'll be gone, too at least from the Public Eye column. Like them, I am moving on.
It's been nearly 15 years since I helped launch the Colorado Springs Independent, a feisty voice that was really needed in a conservative, one-newspaper city.
The year was 1993, just after Colorado voters had adopted the anti-gay Amendment 2, as well as Mr. Bruce's deeply flawed Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. Both ballot issues were born and bred in Colorado Springs, and in their distinct ways have radically altered this city and state. Yes, 15 years after Amendment 2, Colorado Springs still carries a national reputation of being intolerant. And thanks to TABOR, we are all grappling with a budgetary monster with multiple arms wielding as many machetes.
Helping to put the Independent on the map, and helping invigorate broader community discourse, has been one of my life's most rewarding endeavors. And trust me, launching a media start-up was an experience I always vowed never to repeat.
Yet as some of you know, two years ago I stepped down as the Indy's editor-in-chief to pursue an equally daunting challenge: helping launch an all-online daily news organization called coloradoconfidential.com.
The concept is simple. In case you haven't noticed, daily newspapers are shrinking quickly and dramatically, leaving many longtime reporters and editors strewn, like shredded retreads, along the sides of the information superhighway.
I'm not going to suggest that good, real-life newspapers like the Indy and others that actually cover their communities are at risk of going away.
But, just as radio revolutionized the press in the 1940s, and television revolutionized the journalism industry in the 1960s, someone's got to try to rein in that bad boy called the Internet or risk an entire generation of online anonymous zombies roaming around unfettered in that vast parallel pixel universe.
Since its launch in July 2006, coloradoconfidential.com has been breaking important stories with statewide impact. This month, I was promoted to become the site's first full-time editor, overseeing a team of journalists seeking the truth, albeit online.
Which brings me back to the Independent. Many writers keep a tally of just how many brilliant phrases they've turned while perfecting their craft in long and fascinating careers. At the Indy, I just counted words, and stopped at a million which happened somewhere around 1998 or 1999. It was just too much of a hassle to keep track. Plus, as my longtime cohort John Weiss will gladly confirm, math never has been my forte.
But the names and shocking, amusing, appalling antics of the often motley cast of characters that have come through town, I will never forget.
I leave behind wonderful colleagues here at the paper with great expectations of a continued tradition of kicking ass and taking names. And, with hopes of returning for a guest gig on occasion.
As I learned long ago, no one really ever leaves the Indy.