Brent, we already miss you

Editorial Gary MugYou might have noticed, either through his absence at last Thursday’s hospital board meeting or by reading his Half Baked column last week, that our fearless Tonasket reporter, Brent Baker, is no longer on the job. At least not for the Gazette-Tribune, he’s off in pursuit of a new adventure with his church as assistant administrator and an old one, firing up his sports website again.

Of course if you look at this week’s sports pages you wouldn’t know he was gone, maybe because the layout isn’t up to his standards, but the stories and photographs are all his. He’s agreed to carry on on a freelance basis until we can find his replacement. That’s going to be hard to do.

I’ve enjoyed working with several reporters since becoming editor at the G-T, but I have to say Brent has been the best sports reporter we’ve ever had and I know we will have to search far and wide for someone who knows that part of the job as well as he did. I’ll miss having Brent around not just because of his talents in reporting, photography and newspaper layout, but just having him around to talk to. I know I’ll be seeing him around at sporting events, but it won’t be the same around the office without him, even though it was usually just two days a week.

So, I guess those in Tonasket who haven’t seen me at council, school and hospital board meetings for awhile are stuck with me, at least for now. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get to the last school board meeting. I enjoyed attending the hospital board meeting, other than having to wait an hour for the public portion to start because of an executive session. I know that was frustrating to most of the folks there.

So far we’ve had some interesting applicants – a couple from the East Coast, one from Pasco and one from Pocatello, Idaho. It will be interesting to see if the job seekers from New York and New Hampshire would be willing to come out to Eastern Washington for a job interview.

Until we get someone else hired I hope everyone will continue to support Brent’s efforts in our newspaper and into the future with his website venture.

On another note

The killing of the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris drives home the point that anyone, especially those who are critical of radicals, can be a target. We should all join in with shouts of “Je Suis Charlie” and stand up for freedom of the press.

Having the right to express your opinion is just as important to a small community weekly newspaper as it is to the largest newspapers and television networks. At the Gazette-Tribune we offer a forum through our letters to the editor that allows people to express their opinions and share their thoughts on a wide variety of ideas. Not all of them are popular with those that work here or with all our readers and this can lead to a lively debate — with words, not bullets. And that’s what it’s all about, whether you are expressing yourself through words or cartoons — it is human to have an opinion and although you may be willing to die to express yourself no one should have to.

In France, like the U.S., there is a long tradition of protecting speech, whether we like what is being said or not. When people start dieing because some group feels they have been offended, that’s when we all must become “Charlie” and take up the banner for the free expression of ideas.