In an era of corporate concentration of media ownership, Grand Junction citizens are fortunate to have a daily paper whose publisher, editors and reporters live in the same community in which they work. The thought is that by living here, Sentinel employees will be more responsive and cover what people in this area really need to know, so citizens can make more informed choices when it comes to local politics and economic development.
Since Jay Seaton replaced George Orbanek as the paper’s publisher several years ago, the Sentinel has acted noticeably less like a poodle for the area’s political elite, an started showing more backbone in its reporting. I’ve been greatly impressed by the Sentinel’s new willingness to do whatever it takes to get the information its readers deserve, from filing Freedom of Information Act requests to bringing lawsuits to access to information important to area residents. On occasion, the Sentinel has even taken real risks to pursue its mission. One example is how the paper exposed the hypocrisy of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce in claiming to promote local business while taking its own business out of town. (Reporting on the chamber’s antics is not without its risks for the Sentinel. The chamber buys huge amounts of advertising in the Sentinel, pumping tens of thousands of dollars into the paper’s coffers annually. That’s money the paper risks losing if it gets crosswise with the chamber.) The Sentinel also reported in detail on the Grand Junction Regional Airport Board’s fraud and corruption and former State Senator Steve King’s embezzling. The way the Sentinel doggedly pursued those stories for its readers was a big reason why I subscribed to the Sentinel again after 20 years of boycotting the paper. I saw real change for the better in our local paper, and wanted to support it with my dollars.
That’s also why the Sentinel’s coverage of John L. Casey’s appearance the Energy Expo was so incredibly disappointing.
Just when I and probably many others started to think the Sentinel was finally starting to tell the real stories of what goes on around here, the poodle re-emerges.