BRANDON JOHANSSON: A labor of love and angst ends covering the best news town ever for the Sentinel


Three hundred words.

I’ve been at this newspaper thing my entire adult life and never started a sentence with a number because it looks real weird. 

Not as bad as a quote lede, but weird. 

A story was 300 words, roughly 10 inches of copy. Anything less, a brief. Good, bad, useless, whatever. In newsrooms, that word count was a target. Mostly it felt like shackles. 

So don’t settle in, that’s about as long I’m going. 

After 12 years at this rag, which we affectionately call our fishwrappers, I’m out. 

It’s a sad goodbye because this is hands down the finest news town in these United States. 

And diversity is what makes it so. 

From gritty stretches of East Colfax Avenue where I walked with cops and hoodlums; to swank southeast environs where I slapped notebooks on dining room tables worth more than my car, Aurora has it. 

If you want to tell the “America 2018” story, this is where it is. 

It’s not white. It has pockets of concentrated wealth, bigger pockets of grueling poverty, and even bigger yet swaths of people grinding into and out of an elusive “middle class.”  

The Sentinel tells this city’s story, every day, and does it with a staff far smaller than any media outlet you follow.  The troops here don’t rant about staffing woes, even if it is staggeringly worse here than the “big guys” could imagine on their most difficult day. 

Instead, with three full-time reporters, one photographer, one editor and the best sports guy in the metro, they tell the story of 370,000 people. 

When the print edition hits desks Thursday mornings, staffers here wish they told those stories better, always. I did 600 plus Thursdays, I know. 

Reporters everywhere feel similar pangs, but it taps the ribcage harder here because this newsroom knows Aurora’s truth: This place doesn’t get a fair shake. 

It’s why they notice when some shop slaps “Colorado town” on a story about Aurora do-gooders but never misses a chance to get “Aurora” in headlines about tales of woe. 

The people who are this city matter to this newsroom. As  I walk away, I know they always will. 

Take care Aurora, I’ll miss ya, but you have a great team committed to telling your story.

— 300 —

— Reporter Brandon Johansson covered Aurora for the Sentinel for 12 years.