Near the end of each year in newsrooms across the world, reporters and photographers and their editors and publishers have debates over the most important stories of the past 12 months and the most gripping photographs.
Some of those newsrooms go so far as to rank them for public consumption, which is what The Times-Independent has done this year. Feel free to agree or disagree. After all, these decisions are subjective.
Here are our choices:
Story of the Year: “Fire ravages Pack Creek,” June 14. The destructive blaze that raced through a section of Pack Creek and consumed everything in its path, including several homes, came to be known as the Cinema Court Fire. This incident challenged firefighters and changed the lives of several families. It also showed, yet again, that Grand County is a giving community full of people who care for their neighbors. Thousands of dollars worth of donations poured in to help those who were displaced.
Political Story of the Year: House Bill 224 was an odd bit of legislation as it regarded only two Utah counties: Grand and Morgan. The law forced the two counties to change their respective forms of government. Local Republicans were ecstatic because they thought Grand would revert to a three-person partisan commission. Local Democrats? Not so much. In fact, they considered HB 224 a “sneak attack.” Just who gets the last laugh is a story not yet written as Seventh District Judge Don Torgerson is writing an opinion that will decide who controls the process, which will unfold in 2019.
Business Story of the Year: “ICE raids cause panic; workers flee,” Aug. 30. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids that shut down local eateries and overnight lodging establishments in late August could also be our human-interest story of the year if that were a category. The community was divided over the immigration issue – just like every other community in the nation seems to be, but as one restaurant manager said, “We know these people. They’re our friends and neighbors.”
Column of the Year: “Call to action,” Aug. 16. The Times-Independent added its voice to hundreds of other news outlets across the country in publishing an editorial condemning attacks on the press. President Donald Trump’s attacks against journalists and news outlets are as dangerous as they are unfounded. The U.S. for the first time in 2018 made the list of countries where journalists are most imperiled.
Photo of the Year: The Times-Independent Editor Sena Hauer was on scene at the Cinema Court Fire and the haunting, dramatic images she captured told a story words couldn’t. The main photograph featured an exhausted firefighter who had spent hours battling the nine-acre human-caused fire. As he stared into the distance, a home burned in the background.
Feature Story of the Year: “Moab East: Jeep thrills 13,000 miles away,” Sept. 13. Mike Kelso and Doug McElhaney of the Red Rock 4-Wheelers traveled to China and some of the toughest Jeep trails in the world as a favor for an entrepreneur hoping to turn his province in China into the Moab of the East. Jinson Gao and his staff made the trip more than worthwhile.
Community Story of the Year: You can’t be a reporter at The Times-Independent without writing about affordable housing issues. While local governments at the county and city level struggle to do something for the city’s largely low-income workforce, reporters kept the community informed about the progress. This was not a single story, but one that was written throughout the year – with no end in sight.
Advertiser of the Year: Emery Telecom has continued to support community news every week throughout the year. Our news coverage doesn’t exist without the critical revenue from our advertising service, and while our hat goes off to every business that chooses to advertise with us, Emery’s steadfast support stands out.