A FEW WEEKS AGO, I was sitting down at my computer with a reheated coffee and found myself faced with a tweet about the “very dishonest media.” One of many I’d read lately.
Like: “The most dishonest people on earth.” That’s fairly broad—or at least requires a conspiracy of absolutely epic proportions. Or, reporters are “crooked.” Publications are “disgusting” and “going to hell.” And the drumbeat message of the media, media media as enemy, media as liars and crooks and charlatans and some of the “worst people on the planet.”
I read, thinking, that’s also me and this magazine we’re talking about.
So I had to talk to you about it.
Does bias exist? Yes. Media outlets are complicated things—egos, corporate agendas, personalities, network bias—it’s all there, coloring what we hear and see. But there is a difference between bias and factual accuracy. Bias is in what you play up, cater to and unfairly emphasize.
Lies are lies.
By all means, hold media outlets accountable for journalistic integrity. But don’t let the current discourse turn me and my colleagues into the “other,” a faceless, lying obstacle to some preferred narrative. We are not the enemy, and we are not “them.”
We are you.
Amy and I started this magazine from nothing, during a recession—just our laptops, some 401k money and a dose of what-were-we-thinking. I did it between freelance jobs while a baby napped and Amy wore about 16 hats and worried about paying the printer bills. We did it because we are committed to giving voice to communities, and because there’s nothing else we’d rather do—and nothing else we know how to do as well.
We take this work seriously, following the guidelines for editorial integrity laid out by the American Society of Magazine Editors. Our contributors are professionals who live and breathe Colorado, and publish novels and nonfiction books and memoirs and articles in national publications and some of the finest newspapers in our country.
This magazine is not a vehicle for breaking news or investigative take-downs. But it has a point of view. And regardless of what that is, we are accountable to you. We deal in real facts; we are legally and professionally liable when we screw them up. And while lifestyle journalism doesn’t exactly put our writers on the front lines, we are still fighting a battle—the one of substance over the superficial.
In this issue, Andrew Kensley has written a powerful piece about the mental health crisis our community is facing—about what our friends, loved ones and neighbors battle every day, and why it’s getting worse. Contributing to the crisis is the denial, hiding and stigma, the idea that people with mental illness are “other.” But our stories help us drop the false narratives we use as shields, and in our unguarded truthfulness we become stronger, and we use our stories to lift people up and say, “Me too. I know this. I see you.” That is how we unite and become more human—and humane.
This is what I do. If it moves you, keep reading. Let me know how I can do better. Read the opposing viewpoint. Question motives and sources. Learn how to fact check, not just gut check.
But don’t other-ize me and my entire profession, and don’t let anyone else do it, either. Don’t sit back and let the drumbeat drown out our stories. They are our truth.