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Home / Articles / · Archive / News & Columns /  Altie, and Still Salty
News & Columns

Altie, and Still Salty

New Editor Holly Mullen returns to her alternative roots at City Weekly.

By Holly Mullen
Posted // June 11,2007 -

The noise at last week’s Best of Utah 2007 awards party was ear-splitting (I mean that in a good way). Yet somehow, a familiar voice rose above the din. It was Rod Decker. KUTV 2’s irrepressable newsman won second place from City Weekly readers in the “best TV news reporter” category.

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Decker started at Channel 2 in 1980. Before that he was a reporter at the Deseret News. Decker has also been awarded a prestigious Nieman Fellowship from Harvard University. He spent an academic year in Cambridge, Mass., studying whatever he wanted. This, because he was such a kick-ass journalist at midcareer.

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Most people don’t know about Decker’s meaty vita. They think he just shows up somewhere, works on a gritty facial expression and barks his report de jour into the camera. But Decker has always had enormous credibility with me, because of his intellect. So when I sat down with him at the CW party, his opening comment came as the highest compliment:

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“I respect what you did,” Decker said. “Leaving a secure job like you did, with nothing else lined up, that took guts. Especially when you’re older.?

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OK. Did he really have to rub in the part about older?

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I did quit The Salt Lake Tribune last year, a few days before Christmas. I had written a column for the Utah section three days a week, for almost five years. It’s true I had no new job to run to. And my exit wasn’t even tied to any sexy scandal. My editor killed a column about two dying dolphins, rescued by a Mongolian herdsman with very long arms.

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I was told that because the column wasn’t local, it would not run.

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When I added that incident to my general anxiety about the future of daily newpapers, it made sense to move on.

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Three months of full-time blogging (MullenTown.com) passed, and here I am, behind CW’s editor’s desk. I told owner John Saltas he really should be careful what he asks for'he’s pestered me for years in his Private Eye column to come work here. His whining finally paid off. Saltas, Publisher Jim Rizzi and I have struck a pact about the purpose and value of alternative newspapers. They are exactly what the name implies'an alternative, an option beyond traditional newspapers. Our job is to dig up the stories the dailies and TV stations either miss or cover only superficially. That, and to infuse topics with context and voice, properties that mainstream journalists too often label as “bias.” Having plowed this ground before as a writer at alternative papers in Minneapolis and Dallas, I know their power and charm lies in their unpredictability. It’s true that most journalists in this genre tilt to the political left. And most are cultural iconoclasts. But please don’t tag this publication as some liberal rag. Because you would be wrong.

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As I told the staff on my first day, “Our worst sin here would be to bore people.” To that end, we’re going to polish the news and features in front of the newspaper. They are good, but can be much better. We’ll keep churning out the best humor and satire, entertainment stories, listings and reviews in town. City Weekly, after all, is no overnight sensation dreamed up by a team of newspaper consultants. Our writers know this community'its beauty, its wackiness, its rich art and club scenes. We’ll keep it coming.

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Finally, in the interest of honesty and journalistic disclosure, here are some personal revelations you should know. Some people might raise them as potential conflicts of interest, so I’ll beat them to it. I am married to Ted Wilson, mayor of Salt Lake City from 1976-85. He directed the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics until he retired in 2003. He stays busy in political and community affairs. Notable among those is his vice president’s position on the board of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

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Ted’s daughter, my stepdaughter, is Jenny Wilson, a Salt Lake County councilwoman and a candidate for Salt Lake City mayor. Given our plans to fully cover this horse race (there are nine candidates), I need to tell you about that connection. I’ll steer clear of mayoral race coverage, and see that another editor handles related stories.

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If you will simply pick up a paper every week, I promise we’ll not bore you. If we do, tell me about it.

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And BTW, Rod Decker never misses an issue.

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In this issue:

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? How does a 25-year-old porn film star and mother of a toddler move from her “victim” mentality and onto the next stage of her life? Stephen Dark explores the career of former Utahn Michelle Sinclair, aka Belladonna.

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? Ted McDonough uncovers some schlocky rehab work at This Is the Place Monument.

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? And in “The Ocho,” Bill Frost suggests his own blueprint for Sugar House.

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