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Our View: A good piece of work

The Union Editorial Board

Don Rogers is a piece of work.

That’s meant literally and figuratively. He’s an edifice of toil, an automaton of action. The man constantly works.

In this business, that’s the way it goes.

It’s tough to find people who have been in newspapers as long as Rogers. Already long hours have grown longer. The business has been contracting over the past 20-some years. No surprises there. Plenty of grizzled newspapermen and women have left sadly, seeing a career they loved turn into something they don’t recognize. Others took buyouts or were laid off.

But many still remain, heads down, working away, toiling at something they still love, despite all the rest.

You’ll find Rogers in that last group, likely guffawing at a joke a reporter just said. You have to get those in when you can. There’s always more work to be done.

You can see his imprint on the opinion pages, where he edited letters to the editor and guest columns. He’d work with writers, asking them to rewrite portions if they couldn’t be backed up. Rogers wants everyone’s voice heard, as long as they’re supported by a legitimate source. Anyone can post on Facebook. These pages should be held to a higher standard.

Everyone has their political leanings, which, in turn, people use to form opinions about other people’s leanings. Rogers is no different, but as the guy responsible for the opinion pages, he had to set personal politics aside, as anyone in that role must.

We want everyone’s viewpoint. Just make sure when you’re arguing your point, you’re pointing to the facts, not just your version of them.

Slogging through the daily grind of commentary is just one aspect of the job. As publisher and then editor, he spent the time working with contributors. As publisher, he had to deal with surly editors, ad folks, paginators and press people. As editor, he dealt with cranky photographers, reporters, freelancers, and his own new publisher, navigating new waters. Rogers was up a certain creek and looking for a paddle.

It isn’t every publisher who keeps their office door open, even welcoming reporters looking to talk. Publishers deal with the business of newspapers — making money and big decisions. Usually, there’s a healthy number of people to push through before getting to their door.

Not so with Rogers. Reporter, advertiser, angry reader, they all were welcome. He has a habit of turning angry conversations into talks that end in handshakes. Unruly strangers become acquaintances, then friends.

You’re not going to agree with him all the time. Little chance of that. And you won’t always agree with his decisions, or his politics, or, heaven knows, his writing style. But, with all these things, he can assign a reason to it.

In any climate, that goes a long way.

Few can claim ownership of these traits and longevity in the newspaper business. Fewer still can weather the slings and arrows that seemingly fall around us each day and come out the other side intact.

It’s an old saw, but a true one — Grass Valley’s loss is Aspen’s gain. The Aspen Times is gaining an editor with knowledge of that state, having lived in it for close to two decades.

Some folks will be happy to see him go, as is the case with any publisher or editor. More will be saddened that The Union has lost someone with his level of experience and expertise.

He’ll be back, that’s for sure, for visits with friends and family. The next job, the next adventure will always be calling, though.

And he’ll answer it. Lord knows, the man is a piece of work.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com

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