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Opinion editor: An introduction

Ann Marie Swan is Herald, Journal’s new Opinion editor

I’m a recent transplant in Durango from Salida, and I’m thrilled to say I’ve joined The Durango Herald and The Journal as Opinion editor. This is my dream job. The thing is, though, I can’t do it without your help. My first order of business is to ask for it.


Building Opinion pages that reflect who you are, your struggles, concerns and celebrations, and all the many layers and cultures that make up the Southwest is my highest goal. I want what’s at the heart of your conversations with family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers to land onto our pages. Help me make the Opinion section a home for civil, relevant discourse.

A little about me. Newsrooms are my North Stars. I moved to the Denver area in 1996 to work for the Rocky Mountain News, which closed in 2009. As more doors shut on writing and editing jobs for a while, I pivoted to find new opportunities. I’ve been blessed to work with people who spanned the rainbow of human experiences. From instructing college students and prisoners on writing about their inner lives; to being an AmeriCorps volunteer; to helping parents in the child-welfare system connect with their children; to owning a yoga studio and more. Like you readers, I’ve lived different versions of myself. This time outside newsrooms opened my mind on how, as a journalist, to better serve my communities.

Before living in Colorado, I worked on newsdesks at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and Pacific Stars and Stripes in Tokyo. I’m originally from New Orleans.

But enough about me. I want to know about you. Talk with me about pressing issues that affect you and everyone else in Durango, the Four Corners and northwestern New Mexico to the far, outer reaches of the 3rd Congressional District. I’m learning the ropes here. I’m running on first impressions. As a newbie, I have fresh eyes. I’m all ears, too, so feel free to share your insights.

Meanwhile, I’m doing all the regular things to get my bearings and get settled. Changing my address, selecting an internet provider, registering to vote and finding quiet river spots. Durango feels like a larger, faster, more expansive version of Salida. A pumped-up Salida with more restaurants, hardware stores and music.

So much is familiar here. Both Durango and Salida share lifestyles, outdoorsy and casual, and real concerns that threaten its life force, including a lack of affordable housing. Both cities have historic districts with walls that contain so many stories. Ghosts, too. All rungs on the socioeconomic ladder are represented in both places, with some people purchasing second and third homes, while living near others caught in deep pockets of poverty. The changes in property values and attitudes can be head-spinning. And our rural areas hold a wide range of new and traditional cultures.

Other commonalities. Well-loved trails. Family ski areas. Hot springs. Social and institutional problems.

Utes called the Arkansas River Valley home, too, and so many places there, as well as here, hold a sacredness that can be palpable.

We have much to cover in the Herald and The Journal’s opinion pages. Drop me a line at letters@durangoherald.com or call 375-4522. Tell me something old or new.

Trust me when I say, I need your help. I’m new here.