Rest in peace, High Timber Times

Posted: October 19, 2016 in Media
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As of today, the High Timber Times is no more.

The voice of Conifer is silenced. Oh, the coverage will endure and events, the people, sports, schools and politics but it will speak inside the pages of the Canyon Courier.

Without any fanfare, this letter appeared on the Canyon Courier website on October 19, 2016:

“Dear Subscriber,

Over the last several years our mountain communities have grown closer
together than ever before. Readers in both Conifer and Evergreen have asked for
more local news and a larger and more comprehensive newspaper.

And so, beginning Oct. 19, 2016, we are proud to announce an exciting
improvement to our news and advertising coverage. The High Timber Times and the
Canyon Courier will merge into one comprehensive product. From our high school
sports coverage to news about the Jeffco school district and the county government, from personality profiles to development disputes, from the arts to the outdoors — readers of the Canyon Courier will receive the full spectrum of mountain area coverage each week.

The combined paper will retain the name Canyon Courier, but its content will
include all the coverage of Conifer, Pine, Bailey and Morrison that High Timber
Times readers have come to rely on. And it will continue to provide the Courier’s Evergreen-area content as well, a bonus for readers in the 285 Corridor.

Our goal as a newspaper remains the same: unite our communities with a
reliable local source of information, advertising and online content. We are privileged to serve the mountain communities as your only source of local news, and we look forward to a promising future…”

I worked for the High Timber Times (HTT) from late 2009 to early 2012.

My trial story was on Camp Fickes in Buffalo Creek. The perspective reporters vying for the job were all sent out on assignments and the one with the best story won. I came back with not only a story but with a package of photos.

I got the job and I was hooked.

I was stunned when I started working at the paper; my degree is in photojournalism and not in journalism per se. I took only minimal classes in writing at Metro so I wasn’t prepared for the fine-detailed skills demanded by my editor and assistant editor.

Needless to say, it was an pulverizing experience, a baptism by fire. I thought I knew enough so that I could learn more. I got conflicting advice from two dynamic sources and it was debilitating. I caved in on myself.

The balance was that I really enjoyed talking to people, getting stories and after the initial shock, writing stories. I learned which civic organizations to avoid like the plague.

I met, wrote about and photographed characters, assholes, zealots, visionaries, kindred souls and a few freaking wackos.

On one of the national news websites there was an article about a man who, in 2009, was the “oldest cub reporter in America.” He was 45. I was 51.

I worked six days a week and had only Tuesdays off. I was paid $12.50 an hour with no overtime. I never received a raise.

I drove hundreds of miles to get stories. I wrote and shot for all of Evergreen Newspapers: High Timber Times, Canyon Courier, Clear Creek Courant and Columbine Courier. The best stories would land in most papers and the real coupe was when my story was in the Upslope section. I never won a single award.

I covered the recreation district wars, the largest marijuana grow in Colorado, car accidents, deaths, Jeffco, veterans, wildfires and the schools. It was heaven on earth.

I developed excellent note-taking skills and interview techniques that I’m sure weren’t covered in Metro classes. My editor once asked me how it was that people would tell me things they’d not tell anyone else. My response: I just listened. People will tell you everything if you just listen.

A few years ago I pitched my notebooks. I moved most of my images onto a standalone computer for storage. I rarely see or read those articles or pictures. I still have my business cards.

I have hundreds of articles that as of today can’t be accessed or searched through the Canyon’s search parameters. I know it takes time to migrate databases to a new URL. This makes my hard copies even more precious.

I tried to scan the hard copies so I could link them in my site as a PDF but they scanned poorly. I keep the originals out of my house and in a storage unit. Just in case.

If the market for journalists was better, I’d consider going back to writing. I miss it and nothing I’ve done has been as fulfilling.

After I left HTT the assistant editor told me the reason I failed was because I was too old to start a new career. Maybe. Maybe not.

Though I’m glad coverage of the Conifer area will continue it won’t be the same as seeing the news under the HTT banner.

Rest in peace, High Timber Times.

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