Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by Douglas here.
A little less than a month ago, as I was heading out on a Saturday morning to one of my favorite spots in the valley, I received a call from this paper’s editor, Brent Boyer. As soon as he said, “I have some bittersweet news,” I sensed that Brent had called to tell me he was leaving the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
I wish my intuition had been wrong.
As most everyone knows by now, Brent and Megan Boyer — along with the most photogenic little girl since Shirley Temple, their daughter, Avery — are headed off to Boise, Idaho, where Meg was recently named vice president of sales and marketing for the Idaho Statesman. While not as well known to readers as Brent, Meg held several editorial and managerial positions at the Pilot & Today since joining the paper in 2003. Most recently, Meg was the director of advertising.
Given how talented both Meg and Brent are — Meg was recognized by Editor & Publisher magazine in 2012 as one of 25 rising stars in the newspaper industry, while under Brent’s leadership the Pilot & Today was named the best newspaper in its circulation class by the Colorado Press Association six times in the last eight years — it’s not surprising that life is presenting them with exciting new challenges outside of the Yampa Valley.
Personally, I am thrilled for the Boyers.
Professionally, I will miss working with Brent.
Given the often contentious nature of our working relationship — entirely due to my, let’s just say, mercurial personality — I suspect Brent will question the veracity of that last sentence.
For the past 15 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of different editors and program directors while expressing my opinions about current events and public policy issues in print and on talk radio at several different media outlets.
I’ve never worked with anyone better than Brent.
As an editor, Brent has a unique ability to challenge a writer to find the key point that cuts to the heart of an issue. Particularly when it comes to matters of import in Steamboat, Brent’s perspective was always insightful and helpful in identifying those key issues — issues that might otherwise have gone unrecognized and unaddressed.
Brent’s assessment of how those issues would play out here in the Yampa Valley was unmatched. Because of his ability to understand how public policy issues would unfold here in the ‘Boat, Brent was able to play devil’s advocate on any topic as a means toward sharpening the focus of any column.
From my selfish perspective, Brent provided the one thing anyone in the opinion business wants above all else — the latitude to express those opinions without outside interference. I will forever be grateful for the number of times Brent defended my work — even when he was repeatedly pressured by partisans of one faction or another who wanted my column buried or terminated.
From a community perspective, I know firsthand how much Brent cares about everyone here in the Yampa Valley and how, at times, unjustified criticism of how he managed the paper stung even more because of how much he does care. I have long believed that it is far more difficult to be the editor of the Pilot & Today than of the Denver Post. Discomforting and tragic issues and events often reverberate to a much larger degree in a small community like Steamboat than in a city the size of Denver.
To his credit, Brent never shied away from covering those difficult stories and incidents because he believes in the unique and important role that a free press plays in American society. In short, Brent is an excellent journalist and his skills as editor have set the benchmark here in Steamboat.
I hope everyone in this special valley will join me in wishing the Boyer family good fortune as they start their new life in Idaho. It’s never easy to uproot from a community you love — and where you fell in love — but sometimes you have to trust your instincts and charge ahead into the unknown.
Godspeed Brent, Meg and Avery.
To reach Rob Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.