COMMENTARY: Yes, Robert is still here

by Nov 9, 2018OPINIONS





I’ve been back at the One Feather for nearly three months now. When I applied for the opening, I was confident. I was editor for 11 years of this publication, and it had its ups and downs. I was proud of what I accomplished at this paper. I, of course, was more than qualified for the reporter job that opened up, and after a few years of being out of the work force at my own choosing, it was time for me to go back to work.

I didn’t leave my previous term at this publication under the best circumstances. The elected leadership of this tribe at that time and I had differences of opinion as to what role the One Feather should play in the community. Since coming back I’ve run into all those who were instrumental in the end of my tenure as the editor. All my conversations have been cordial. I want them to know I bear no ill will. I wish you all the best. That was 11 years ago. I’ve gotten other jobs, and I’ve moved on.

I also come into this job with no agenda other than to do what a journalist is supposed to do. There are typically opposing sides to things in Cherokee. To one side, often referred to as the “radicals,” I appreciate your support in the past and present, but if you’re expecting a mouthpiece to advocate your side, you’ll be disappointed. To the other side, take comfort in the fact that I have no agenda against your side. And to the business community, know that I have an immense amount of respect for what you do. It isn’t easy. The fact is, to all sides, there’s common ground out there, and I kind of would like to help you find it. My agenda simply is to find the truth, find the facts and use them to tell the stories so people can be informed and make informed decisions. That’s it. That’s all it ever was.

I’ve been asked about “Rants and Raves” coming back. For one, that isn’t my call, but even if it was, the answer would be no. I’d be willing to discuss why with anyone personally, but I don’t want to do it here.

The other thing I’ve often encountered since returning is I’m asked, “What happened to Robert (Jumper, the editor)?” I’m kind of amused at it, but I wonder what’s prompting those questions as well.

I was hired to be the One Feather reporter. I’m not the editor this time. Jumper is still the editor, and he’s my boss. I’m perfectly OK with that. I also have no desire to “take over.”

That’s not to say I haven’t had some adjusting to do. The paper is now in tabloid format. It was broadsheet when I was last here, and I had never worked for a publication that was in tabloid format. Personally, I prefer broadsheet, but this is an adjustment I’m making easily. Print versus online is more of an issue than it was. Our online and social media presence allows us to break news as it happens, and it opens up an additional revenue stream. I will say the One Feather seems to have made the adjustment better than I’ve seen with other publications.

It’s also hard for me to turn off the editor at times and let Jumper run the show. Jumper is not as quick to pull the trigger on some issues as he tends to be more diplomatic than I was, but that’s not a bad thing. He also has a good grasp on the business side of the paper, which is one area, frankly, where I had room for improvement. Personally, I think our styles actually complement each other.

However, on the issues I consider most important, Jumper and I, along with reporter Scott Brings Plenty, Advertising Sales Coordinator Philenia Walkingstick and Subscription Clerk Sally Davis, are very much on the same page. We’re strong believers and supporters of transparency, openness and the role the press plays in keeping tribal government accountable to its constituents.

All of this said, I’m glad to be back. I appreciate the support and encouragement I’ve gotten, and I’m happy to be working with this staff. Oh, and to William Ledford, I’m proud to give your birds something to aim for. Goals are important.