Connecting the Dots

I would like to say that I was here at the beginning, but technically I wasn’t. I’d also like to say I was here until the bitter end, but by the same excuse, I’m really not.

As you all learned last week, this is the last issue of the Mountain View Telegraph, a newspaper I had worked at in one form or another for more than 15 years.

Although I haven’t been here for more than a year, people started calling me last week to ask what was going on. These friends and old colleagues also wanted to know how I was taking the news of the impending closure.

That kind of threw me. Didn’t everyone know that I’d moved on to something else?

It forced me to think harder about not only how I felt about it, but the deeper meaning.

The Mountain View Telegraph really started life in 1988 as the East Mountain Telegraph and it merged with the Mountain View Journal in 2003 after the Albuquerque Journal bought the Telegraph. I started out here in 1999 with the opening of the Mountain View Journal and for four years was a reporter here.

In 2003 I went to work at the main paper in Albuquerque, but still lived here. In 2008, I began a nine-year run as the editor of this newspaper.

During my time as editor, the Telegraph won four General Excellence awards from the New Mexico Press Association. In 2010, it was named as one of the top three small weekly newspapers in the country by the National Newspaper Association. Our staff won numerous awards from both the state and national organizations.

I was proud of the work we did and was never surprised by the accolades — the real award was the trust and respect we earned from our readers. Through the years, there were great people who worked here, like John Brennan, who was my editor when I started as a reporter here.

There were Tim and Jennifer and Linda and Debbie and Tom, who were there when we shared space in a construction trailer while our office was being built. We passed around the flu that winter and were so thankful when we finally got our own space.

Then when I came back as editor, I had a great staff of Harold and Lee and Laura, who were wary of me, but we soon congealed into a good team. Connie and Kitty kept the office running and Beverly sold ads. Of course, people leave and new ones came on board.

There was Ashley and Elizabeth — youngsters who count the Telegraph as one of their first jobs. Then Laurie showed up with her dry wit. After Laurie was Elise, who took to the job like a duck to water, and who I knew would go on to much bigger things.

Then Mike and Jim and Ann Marie and Brenda and Nicole, who stayed here until the very end.

There are so many more that were part of this family, like Jo White and Albert and Jennifer Noyer, and Stephan Helgesen and Allan Dale Olson and many, many more. I know I’m leaving names out, but the memory isn’t as good as it once was.

Plus, there are many who worked for the East Mountain Telegraph, who I never knew that well, but were just as committed to our communities as anyone I ever worked with.

A newspaper is just a business, but the Telegraph was people; not only those of us who called it our place of work, but the people who picked up a copy every week. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that even through all the struggles a business can go through, we appreciated your support.

So how do I feel about the Telegraph closing? I am sad, but I’m sad whenever I hear a newspaper is closing its doors.

It marks a passage of time, a sign that the world is moving on to newer things. I feel sad for communities who lose a newspaper because it loses a chronicle of its citizens, of its life.

But I have to admit to myself that maybe I’m wrong. My kids’ response to the closing of a newspaper is probably close to the same reaction my grandparents had when the buggy whip factory closed: “That’s still a thing?”

Perhaps I’ve become an anachronism in thinking that in order to be a good citizen, to be a good member of your community, you have to support you community’s institutions. I bank here, I shop here, I send my kids to school here, I read the papers here.

Maybe my kids are right, maybe the new way is better.

However, they can say whatever they want about me and my kind, but I think losing a newspaper takes away a part of a community’s soul.

I know there are many people in our communities that feel the same way, and in the spirit of an old-fashioned Irish wake, a few of us will be getting together Friday at 6 p.m. at the Sierra Blanca Brewery in Moriarty to give the Telegraph a proper send off.

Several staffers will be there for this and I invite anyone to come out and help us celebrate a newspaper that has meant so much to us.

(Rory McClannahan is a former Telegraph editor and is now the executive director of the New Mexico Press Association.)