By Ben Olson
I still remember when Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey joined our little family at the Reader. It was the summer of 2016 and I had received an email from a University of Idaho student asking about a summer internship we had advertised.
Shortly after, a confident young woman with a head full of fiery red hair waltzed into our offices to interview for the position and left an immediate impression on me as someone who has that special something it takes to do this job. As I remember telling my business partner, Chris Bessler, “She’s perfect.”
What began as a part-time internship blossomed into a job when Lyndsie returned home after graduating from U of I the following year. Ever since, we’ve all been lucky to read her byline on a variety of stories covering everything from weekly Bonner County commissioner meetings to her love for country living, elk hunting and cringey pop music. In an office dominated by two salty locals entering their 40s kicking and screaming, her perspective and influence was appreciated, if not necessary, for this newspaper.
I’ve watched Lyndsie grow over the years not only as a journalist, but a person. She has rarely been timid in her job functions. I don’t think the Kieberts have that particular gene in their DNA. My computer screen is fully visible from Lyndsie’s desk and, for the past seven years, she hasn’t hesitated once in telling me when I’ve done something wrong, when I’ve crossed the line with a “Retroactive” comic or if my graphic design left something to be desired.
That kind of honesty and fearlessness isn’t something you can teach — it comes from good upbringing and a good work ethic, as well as the strange determination that few have to practice this art we call journalism and publishing. To date, she has the unique distinction of being the only Reader reporter to have never received hate mail. That’s quite an achievement.
I sometimes compare us “outside cats” here at the Reader. We need the occasional bowl of food and water to sustain us — and maybe a scratch behind the ears from time to time — but for the most part we roam free from the usual workplace confines. We operate on our own together, if that makes sense — a band of loners who find strength together. Sure, we collaborate and bounce ideas off of one another but, ultimately, I value employees who can work autonomously, police their own productivity and get the job done however works best for them.
This sort of environment doesn’t work for everyone. Some need more guidance and structure to perform their duties, and I get that. But Lyndsie either came to us already with the “outside cat” mentality, or she quickly adopted it, because she has been a delight to work with.
Putting aside the awkward pandemic years when we all worked from our caves, the times spent in the office with Zach and Lyndsie remain some of my favorite memories here at the Reader. There’s a certain gallows humor journalists employ to make sense of the issues we have to cover on a weekly basis. The laughter we have shared will always warm my heart, because nobody quite “gets it” like someone you have spent time with in the trenches. It has been one of my greatest honors in life to stand shoulder to shoulder with Lyndsie as we create this weekly offering for our community.
Now, however, she is climbing out of the trenches. Last week, Lyndsie and her husband Alex welcomed young Liam to the world, and we’re so happy for and proud of them. Lyndsie is stepping away from the Reader to focus on raising her family and devoting more time to being an educator and coach, and I support her 100%, though we will miss the hell out of her.
Lyndsie’s last official submission as news editor will be this week’s “Back of the Book” essay on Page 22, and then she’s free from the weekly yolk.
To say I’m jealous is quite an understatement.
You will see new bylines in our pages in the coming weeks — which we’ll introduce in time — and we’ll carry on the best we know how, but I know I speak for the whole community when I say thank you to Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey for all of her words and insights, for her coverage of issues small and large; for her humor and beautiful turns of phrase; her news stories that were fair, accurate and absent of bias. She has worn the hat(s) well all these years and we are better informed because of it.
I could fill pages with accolades for Lyndsie, but I fear that’s just my way of holding on. It’s time to let go of our colleague and our friend. I wish you nothing but the best on your new journey, Lyndsie. There will always be a place for you here at the Reader. Thank you, thank you.
Ben Olson is publisher of the Sandpoint Reader.
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