Editor Andrew Turck leaves BHC News, continues sci-fi writing experiment

Thursday, April 25, 2019
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Nearly seven years ago, I introduced myself as editor of the Big Horn County News with a frontpage article that accidentally was cut short and a rambling editorial that gave out the wrong phone number for our business. Hopefully, I’ve improved since then.

By the time you read this, I will have left the newspaper to complete an odd science fiction novel. Because I’m more than 100 pages into the book already, I figured I’d buckle down and knock it out. This could become disastrous, but I think it will be a fun experiment.

Reporting on Big Horn County has been a privilege that far exceeded my expectations. As I told students in Lodge Grass two weeks ago during a presentation, I have had the opportunity to cover everything from questionable government raiding tactics to cow pie bingo. From my start in June 2012, tribal administrations have risen and fallen, local sports teams have gone the distance and conquered state, and the Two Rivers Detention Facility…well, it’s still vacant.

Originally, I expected to transfer to a larger news venue in about a year. The longer I worked in Big Horn County, however, the more I liked the job. By early 2014, a position opened at a newspaper in Antarctica – a unique place where I would have jumped to work previously – but I decided against applying and kept with my current career.

My choice to stay was solidified on Oct. 1, 2014 when a semi-truck overturned on Interstate 90, releasing 87 cows at Exit 510 near Crow Agency. As Bureau of Indian Affairs officers in patrol vehicles and a Department of Livestock investigator on horseback herded the cattle into a nearby fence enclosure, it formed a bizarre enough scene I realized this was my element. I promptly moved too close to the highway for a photo and got chased off by a yelling BIA officer on wheels.

On a dark note, six cows were euthanized following the incident, though I was unaware of it at the time.

“How can I leave this place?” I asked my brother, who happened to be visiting and tagged along that day. “It’s beautiful.”

Still, as the years continue, it’s important not to remain stagnant.

Following many long nights at the office, I’ve decided to go for a fresh start and a new challenge. The Big Horn County News has helped me grow significantly as a person, but I want to explore other aspects of writing outside journalism. Perhaps I’ll return to the newspaper business someday, but right now it’s time for a change.

In the meantime, I thank everyone in the community – friends, students, health providers, educators, business owners, county and tribal officials, local curmudgeons, and many more – who have been supportive, critical or both. Through all of you, I’ve learned to become better on a personal level and in my craft.

Along with community members, I’ve enjoyed games of Risk where I insisted my soldier pieces were cannibals, weekly ultimate frisbee matchups with fast-and-loose rules and even that one time I got tricked into singing “White Rabbit” in its entirety before a bar in Billings full of cowboylooking folks. The people who welcomed me are a blessing on my life.

In addition, without help from my coworkers, my time at the Big Horn County News would not have been nearly as fulfilling – all were important, but I’ll focus on the two longest-running: former office manager Barb Eben and Publisher Jim Eshleman.

Barb quickly knocked me down a peg at the outset with high expectations that were tough and yet beneficial in the long run. One of the best actions for a journalist is to kill his or her ego. As for Jim, he taught me to take pride in photography and design, and consider differing political opinions. This helped me when writing articles to not always assume my take on an issue was the best one.

Moving forward, I will enjoy reading the newspaper and especially the angry comments under Jim’s “Simply Biased” column.

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