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Two members of Rocky Mountain News photo staff among those leaving paper

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In "Rocky Mountain News editor John Temple on the future of the paper: 'We Have No Idea'" -- a blog published on February 16 -- the aforementioned Temple mentioned that approximately half-a-dozen members of his staff had left the tabloid of late, with some landing newspaper jobs despite the horrific condition of the journalism industry as a whole. Yesterday, the names of two departing employees were confirmed in an e-mail to staffers from managing editor Deb Goeken -- and indeed, one of the pair, both of whom hail from the Rocky's award-winning photo department, has another gig lined up.

The more fortunate of the twosome is Preston Gannaway, who learned that she'd won a Pulitzer Prize for images she captured at her previous paper, the Concord Monitor, on her first official day at the Rocky -- back in April of last year. She's set to click for the Virginian-Pilot, a daily in Norfolk, Virginia. Also leaving is Javiar Manzano, who's completing a two-year fellowship at the paper -- and during that period, he briefly found himself in the spotlight when then-state rep Douglas Bruce tried to kick him, sort of, as Manzano snapped a shot during the morning prayer at the State Capitol. "Douglas Bruce's Legislative Debut is a Real Kick," a January 2008 blog, tells that tale.

Click "Continue" to read Goeken's e-mail, supplemented by comments from Gannaway, Manzano and Rocky photo department head Janet Reeves.

Everyone: Two of our great photojournalists, Javier Manzano and Preston Gannaway, are leaving the Rocky this week. Javier's two-year fellowship with the Academy of Hispanic Journalism ends Thursday. And Preston is joining The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., a great visual paper that will appreciate her immense talents. Javier and Preston both brought to the Rocky their passion for journalism and for telling important stories, as well as their totally unique ways of looking at the world, and they made us better. We wish them well. The following are notes from Janet, as well as farewell letters from Javier and Preston.



From Janet: I first learned of Javier from the Director of Photography at the LA Times. I was searching for a photojournalist who be a good fit for our Hispanic academy program. Javier had interned at the Times and they had high praise for him. They were right. Javier has a very thoughtful and unique style of photographing that touched our readers. On more than several occasions readers have written in to say that a touching photograph by Javier was the reason they stopped to read a story. Javier has covered everything here... from great news coverage of the tornados to creative portraits of high school sports athletes and citizen legislature subjects. And who can forget the famous "kick?" Javier was a true professional and gentleman during this fiasco. Javier's part in the Rocky series "Deadly Denial" was key. His frank and documentary approach to his subjects was the perfect partner for Laura Frank's stories. His documentary videos that accompanied the stories were excellent. Javier's work on this project was entered this year by the Rocky in the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

From Javier: Friends - The time has come for me, the last of the Mohicans from the Academy of Hispanic Journalism, to move along as my fellowship ends this Thursday, February 19. I had the privilege of working with some of the industry's best reporters and photographers. While at the Rocky Mountain News, the level and consistency of my work vastly improved due to the superb photographic standards that my peers held me to -- I thank you all for that. I am grateful to have worked in projects which I believe were instrumental in promoting positive change. After all, that is what we all strive for and It will be hard to replicate. Surely my time here has not been absent of magic.

I do not have another job lined up. I wish I could say I'm moving to Africa in a week but the fact is that I will soon have plenty of free time to promote my craft. I plan on contacting every wire-service agency, non-profit, magazine and relief entity from Santiago, Chile to the New Siberian Islands in hopes of continuing this wonderful craft we call journalism. To practice journalism is a privilege -- I hope to find my way back to this way of life soon. For the time being, I hope to freelance for the Rocky Mountain News as much as I can, as well as doing other commercial jobs around Denver. On my free time, I plan on saving every single injured animal I come across and nurse it back to health.

Thank you all so very much for the support when the skies got dark. I always appreciated the smiles.

All the best to all of you and I hope to work with most of you in the future. All is not lost.

Kind regards,

Javier Manzano


From Janet: Preston's got to have one of the best first day of work stories. She won the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography on her first day at the Rocky. Her work, while she was a photographer at the Concord Monitor, on a story about a woman who died from cancer and the emotional journey for her family was honored.

Preston's photography is powerful, emotional and reveals a finely tuned perspective. Her first few days here she was covering the tornados at Ordway and showed us the devastating human loss as she sat with children in their living room who had just lost their dad. Preston was assigned to many of the political stories this year but on the fringe. Yet when we put together our photo Pulitzer entry this year on Obama, she had numerous images in the entry. Her creative and award-winning approach to illustrating Mike Littwin's "America's Crooked Road" piece was fabulous. Preston enjoyed the Season to Share project this year where she documented the subjects in black and white. We will be hearing a great deal about Preston as she continues her career and we are so fortunate she passed through the Rocky, if only briefly. She will be missed.

From Preston: At the end of this week, I will be leaving the Rocky to pack up and start work as a staff photographer at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. My new job will begin at the end of March.

The Pilot, like the Rocky, has a strong tradition of visual excellence and I'm very excited about delving back into smaller-town community photojournalism.

In the 10 months I've been at the Rocky, I've felt very honored to be part of this photo staff. I sincerely can't imagine a better group of people to be surrounded by -- both as journalists and as all-around good human beings. I appreciate the time I've been able to spend with them and am grateful for all their support.

My best wishes to everyone.

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