Record’s new editor earned respect on business and education beats
Bubba Brown officially takes the reins on Monday
October 7, 2017
Bubba Brown can trace his passion for writing all the way back to elementary school when he and a friend coauthored a series of short stories. Unfortunately, the "Mega Matt and Dr. Bubba" manuscripts are lost to history, but Brown cites them as proof of his devotion to the craft.
And, if they ever do turn up on a library shelf, they might be footnoted as the origin of an illustrious writing career. On Monday, Brown officially takes over as editor of Park City's 137-year-old community newspaper, The Park Record.
In high school, Brown's irrepressible urge to write fiction morphed into an interest in journalism, which he put into practice penning monthly sports columns. At that point, he recalls, "all I ever wanted to write about was sports."
His first job with a newspaper, though, forced him to broaden his horizon. He was hired by the Standard-Examiner to cover breaking news in the Ogden area, including his hometown of Roy.
"It opened me up to the world of hard news and all of the exciting things happening outside of the sports page. I loved it. I had a blast covering fires, traffic accidents and murders," he said.
From Ogden, Brown moved on to The Salt Lake Tribune, where he returned to his favorite beat — prep sports. The assignment also gave him a chance to begin experimenting with social media, which he saw as a way to "go beyond simple game stories."
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Ownership turmoil at the Tribune, however, cut Brown's stint short. Laid off, but determined to pursue a job in journalism, a want ad on journalismjobs.com caught his eye. The ad, for a reporting job in Park City, would prove to be providential.
Brown had snowboarded in Park City when he was a teen but had been lured away by his commitment to playing baseball. However, he was keenly aware of the town's national allure and says it was its "unique" reputation that drew him up the canyon from Salt Lake.
Brown landed the job and quickly realized that covering news in a small town could be as grueling as working at a big metro daily.
"I was expecting the pace to be a little more relaxed," he said. "I did not realize that we would pursue the news as doggedly as we do and that the reporters would have so much responsibility. I really fell in love with that — that our goals as journalists are just the same as what journalists are pursuing at major daily newspapers."
Brown was hired to cover the education beat, which called for juggling coverage of three school districts, especially the diverse programs and ambitious goals of the schools in Park City.
As if that wasn’t a broad enough assignment, he took over The Record's business pages, too, producing a full section of articles on each topic every week.
Over the last three years, Brown has earned the respect of leaders in both worlds. According to Park City School Superintendent Ember Conley, "He is a quality reporter that takes the time to listen carefully, gain multiple perspectives, and share information in a thorough and unbiased style."
This summer, when The Record's current editor Nan Chalat Noaker confided in Publisher Andy Bernhard that she was planning to retire, he and the paper's owner, Swift Communications, launched a nationwide search. Not surprisingly, Brown's application rose to the top.
"Bubba has demonstrated a certain professionalism since the day he walked in the door," said Bernhard. "He carries himself well, does his research, is a strong writer and is easy to communicate with. I think he understands his newfound responsibilities at the paper and in the community.
"When Nan decided to retire I think he saw an incredible opportunity to take himself and the paper to the next step. I was happy to be able to give him his shot. Once he settles in, I think he's capable of doing some great things," he added.
Chalat Noaker, who has served as The Record's editor in chief for 21 years, fully endorses that decision.
"It has been a joy to work with Bubba over the last three years. We share a love of current events — local and global — and of great writing. I will miss leaning over his cubicle wall to talk about the latest antics in D.C. and how they might play out in P.C."
On the eve of her departure she added, "Bubba has been especially kind and patient during the transition while I pestered him with advice and warnings, most of which he already knew. He is excited and deeply committed to doing a good job — and I have no doubt that he will."
For his part, Brown says he is ready for the challenge.
"I want to reassure people that I absolutely understand the legacy of The Park Record and what it means to the community," he said. "It is incredibly important to me to ensure The Park Record maintains its status in the community and that it maintains its status as the place where people go for news about what is going on in town. I think a community's paper is one of its most important institutions and my job is to keep it that way."
Brown and his, wife Alyssa, who is a Master Esthetician, currently live in Salt Lake City. Later this month, the couple, who recently celebrated their second anniversary, hopes to close on their first home in Kimball Junction.