I write this column thousands of miles from Salt Lake City, on travels, and a bit sad.
UtahPolicy.com publisher LaVarr Webb has sold his successful political website to the Deseret News, the new owner taking over next week.
And Bryan Schott, managing editor of UtahPolicy.com, is taking a new job with The Salt Lake Tribune and will be working with Trib non-profit chairman Paul Huntsman and other folks over there on an updated online platform.
I, myself, am taking some time off from daily journalism, albeit part-time, to figure out what I want to do in the future, as far as Utah journalism is concerned.
I joined UtahPolicy.com way back in the summer of 2010, after taking a buy-out from the Deseret News — where I’d worked since late 1976, the last 25 years or so as the political editor.
LaVarr, a mentor at the DN and friend, felt pity for me and agreed to hire me part-time for the online newsletter. I didn’t figure it would be a decade-long gig.
But it has worked out that way, much to my pleasure.
Really a wonderful time, on a number of fronts.
LaVarr has been a great boss over the years, very supportive of the kind of back-room political reporting Bryan and I have worked on, especially in the last few years.
If I may brag a bit here: UtahPolicy.com has been the place to go, especially for state political insights, both stories and commentaries.
I’ve especially enjoyed our podcast: Bernick and Schott on Politics, which is by far has been the longest-running Utah political podcast. It was all Bryan’s idea, and he has worked thousands of hours preparing, taping, and in post-production.
It started out as a weekly videocast, at the studio offices of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. But Bryan, who is a technology wiz, told me after a few years that an audio podcast was the way to go, so we morphed into that format and started doing it two days a week, Tuesday and Friday. We’ve done over 500 podcasts, and would have done a farewell one if I could have figured out how to link up with him back in Salt Lake — but I failed him yet again when it comes to old guys and computers. Sorry.
The “pod” has been, by all accounts, a great success. And a lot of fun. Bryan and I both have offbeat senses of humor, and LaVarr let us have a lot of rope (sometimes to hang ourselves.) Or maybe he just didn’t listen to it.
But a lot of other folks did — we know that from the feedback we’ve gotten over the years.
Both officeholders and political insiders came to UtahPolicy.com to get the news Bryan and I dug up and reported on, but also to read links to other political stories, from the two main newspapers — Trib and DN — and other news sources throughout the state.
And a lot of folks also followed our writings and links via our FaceBook page, which drew many comments each day — some of them knocking us for our stories or commentaries.
That’s all OK by us.
In these tough times politically for our country, there needs to be even more, not less, political coverage.
And one of my great pleasures is seeing Bryan really grow as a political reporter and podcaster. He is by far doing the best stuff in this important area in the state. Yes, I’m biased. But I see daily the respect Bryan has developed among the political newsmakers.
So, to Bryan and LaVarr: I don’t know where I may be going in the next few months in journalism. Hey, maybe I’ll just retire and muddle around my house instead of muddling around in political reporting and commentating.
But thanks for the ride. It has been my honor and joy working for and with you over the last ten years at the “old” UtahPolicy.com.
To the officeholders and political insiders I’ve reported on and had good relationships with: Keep on doing the best job you can for the people of Utah. They need you, even if sometimes they think they don’t.