Linda

Reporter Linda Navarro celebrates 50 years at The Gazette March 14, 2016. Navarro as covered city courts, nonprofits, and Colorado Springs social scene, just to mention a few. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Linda Navarro was 22 years old and fresh out of college in March 1966, when she rolled into Colorado Springs for a job as a cub reporter covering city courts at the Gazette Telegraph.

Fifty-six years later, Navarro has dialed back to part-time and she’s got a different beat, but she’s still working for the 150-year-old daily where she got her start, where she says her love for the newsroom rhythm, and what local journalism represents in a community, is as strong as it was on Day One.

Technology may have transformed the way news is delivered, but what it provides is timeless, she said.

“I think, no matter what, no matter when, it’s covering the facts and covering exactly who and what the community is and telling their story,” said Navarro, 78. “That’s never going to change.”

When Navarro first arrived from Missouri, Colorado Springs was a two-newspaper town, where staff from the GT and its rival, The Sun (which closed in 1986), competed for scoops during the day and spent their off hours swapping stories at the watering holes that remained open after deadlines were met.

"It was a really exciting time to be here and in journalism," Navarro said in a 2016 Gazette profile celebrating her 50th anniversary at the paper.

In more than five decades at The Gazette, Navarro has reported news, features and entertainment, and served as a city editor at a time when the paper published both morning and evening editions.

“We had to have three city editors…each with specific tasks, and mine was to turn the morning paper over to the evening paper, and update everything,” she said.

Navarro has covered national tragedies that had local resonance, and local tragedies that made national headlines.

One memory that stands out was in early March 1991. A United Airlines commuter jet bound from Denver to Colorado Springs crashed in Widefield, en route to the airport.

“It basically dug itself into the ground with 25 people on board,” Navarro said. “When things like that happen the entire newsroom is there and the entire newsroom will go wherever needed, around the clock.”

As the paper’s staff was mobilizing and covering the crash, word came in about another local disaster. A care facility was on fire, and there were multiple casualties.

How the newsroom responded then, divvying up assignments to make sure no news was left untold, reminds Navarro of how the staff responded more than two decades later during the Waldo Canyon Fire, in 2012, she said.

During Waldo, “each person, each writer, had a specific area to follow completely and follow through, the whole time,” said Navarro, recalling long work days that — by choice — often bled into the next. “You didn’t really need 12 hours off because you would go home and your eyes were wide open. Most of us found we were right back on site after a short rest or a little bit of something to eat. We wanted to be sure about our beats.”

Before the internet, Navarro was where readers and the community turned when they had questions about the city where they live. Navarro addressed such queries in her popular “Did you ever wonder” column, becoming a go-to repository for local info both for readers and her colleagues in the newsroom.

“It was totally fascinating. I was like an early Google, but only in person,” she said.

That time-honored role took on new meaning during the pandemic, as more people turned to her for answers, about which places were closed and which were opening up — and always, always a guaranteed response.

“I’ve always tried to be there for everyone. I find that answer for my community. That’s my job," Navarro said. 

Reporter

Stephanie Earls is a news reporter and columnist at The Gazette. Before moving to Colorado Springs in 2012, she worked for newspapers in upstate NY, WA, OR and at her hometown weekly in Berkeley Springs, WV, where she got her start in journalism.

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