Life running a small town newspaper - M. E. Sprengelmeyer - Monday 1/15

Life running a small town newspaper
M. E. Sprengelmeyer
Monday 1/15

As far as I’m concerned,” wrote the famously irascible journalist Hunter S. Thompson about his own profession, “it’s a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity.

I’m guessing, despite the fact that they both spent considerable time in the State of Colorado, that Hunter Thompson never met M. E. Sprengelmeyer.  

No more dynamic and vital a journalist has ever served the trade than M.E., until very recently the editor-publisher-reporter-photographer of the Guadalupe County Communicator.  But, after 8 years of running an award-winning weekly newspaper in the small eastern New Mexico town of Santa Rosa, M. E. has sold The Communicator, is leaving New Mexico, and he says, leaving journalism as well.

Ouch!  The business of news and the practice of journalism can’t afford losses like this, even though M. E. has found an ideal successor, Tom MacDonald, the former editor of the Roswell Daily Record and the founder of the Gazette News Service, which produces a weekly selection of the best journalism written in the State of New Mexico.

MacDonald, like Sprengelmeyer, has been a guest on this program, and hopefully will be again.  M. E., as you will hear, seems bent on making this his HERE & THERE farewell, but we’ll keep tabs on him and try and change his mind.

But first we’ll try and pick his brain, about journalism, and what he learned about his craft during his 8 years in Santa Rosa, about life in small town New Mexico, about what he learned covering the struggles of a town of 2700 people…and dropping, and what he learned about himself…doing his dream job, to the hilt, until he could feel, as he put it, that he was “running out of gas.”

The realities of our world are always changing, which is why we call our chronicle of reality, as we saw it in a moment in time, “news.”  When it gets old, it becomes something else. History? Perhaps.  Stupidity?  Sometimes.

News can only describe a moment as it moves away from it, a fragment in time, a fraction of the whole story.  As the late, great journalist of the Washington Post and New York Times, Anthony Shadid said, “Journalism is always the art of the incomplete. You get bits and pieces.”

For years, M. E. Sprengelmeyer practiced that very art…as a national and, like Shadid, international reporter for the Rocky Mountain News, a major regional newspaper, now deceased.  M. E. was responsible for daily updates on the biggest stories, trying to find the best bits and pieces to characterize the latest developments of an ongoing story whose conclusion is almost always unknown, maybe unknowable.  



Michael E. Sprengelmeyer is an American newspaper reporter. He graduated from Northwestern University in 1989.  From 2001 to 2009 he was a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News, covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the 2008 US presidential campaign, winding up as the paper’s  Washington, D.C. correspondent. In August 2009, Sprengelmeyer bought the weekly New Mexico Guadalupe County Communicator and became its owner, publisher, editor, and primary writer.

Outside from reporting, he was once a Wrigley Field usher, accordion player, and played in a band called “News Hole”.   Michael Sprengelmeyer became “M.E.” twenty years ago when he realized that his full name would not fit in a column width.,_New_Mexico




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