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May 17th, 2010
09:23 AM ET

Dear Mr. President #483 "Come see the new, New Mexico!"

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/17/art.obama.waving.jpg caption="This week, I am in New Mexico for the next installment of our Building Up America series.  Now I’m the one traveling, and the President is stuck back in DC!" width=292 height=320]

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: Oh, so the tables have turned! Now I’m the one traveling, and the President is stuck back in DC! (At least I think he is…hmm…better check that out.) Anyway, my letters this week will be from New Mexico.

Dear Mr. President,

Greetings from the Land of Enchantment! No, no, I’m not talking about Beyonce’s dance rehearsal studio. I’m in New Mexico!

Have you ever spent much time here? Having lived in Denver for 10 years, I can tell you that I roamed the countryside of my southern neighbor a good many times. This is a delightful place. Beautiful countryside. Rolling hills with scattered scrub oaks, sage, cacti and more. Pronghorn standing on the alert on distant ridges; prairie dogs skittering around; and a lovely assortment of birds…which, as you know, I always enjoy.

I am here for the next installment of our Building Up America series which will be airing all this week. (Btw, did you see my Building Up America special on Alabama this past weekend? You didn’t call, so I was wondering if you missed it. I can send over a DVD if you want…) I spent most of today hanging out in a fun little town called Santa Rosa with a pretty interesting guy named M.E. Sprengelmeyer. He used to be a big reporter for Denver’s Rocky Mountain News (which was a really good newspaper) until it went up in flames and sent everyone packing. He had every reason to give up on the west, on the economy, and certainly on the newspaper business. But instead he beat feet down to his old home state of New Mexico where he bought the Guadalupe County Communicator, a small local newspaper, and is now taking a swing at the publishing game.

It’s outrageously tough. He and his really small staff are working long, long hours, often deep into the night. Once a week he drives a hundred miles each direction to pick up his papers from the printer. But he’s pushed up the number of stories and photos, added a local comic, and it’s worked: subscriptions are up, street sales are up, and so is advertising. What’s more, he increased his payroll by forty percent and he’s still making a go of it. In the newspaper business!

He’s not getting rich, to be sure, but just to see the progress he is making is inspiring. Life has not been so easy in New Mexico with job losses in construction, mining, manufacturing…so to see someone doing okay in one of the toughest businesses going these days…well, if I wore a hat it would be off to him.

Anyway, I’m expecting to find a lot more terrific stories of folks finding ways to rebuild their corners of America while I’m here this week and I’ll pass them on. For now, it’s late. Need some sleep.

Regards.

Tom

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soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Vitaly

    Tom,

    Could not find your email. I watched your program about Alabama yesterday – I liked it. But I suggest one more topic for your future programs. I am a professor at Troy University, Alabama. My university has a great success for the last few years. It grows tremendously due to many factors including online teaching. You could come to Troy and make a great CNN program about a success of the undergraduate university and the city of Troy. A major IT company, CGI, has selected Troy to open a branch here which would be an example for future America – how authorities, education and industry should collaborate for a common success.

    Vitaly
    .

    May 17, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
  2. Brianna

    One of my favorite places to eat in albuquerque is gardunos- while here in town you should swing by one of these great restaurants! Also take a balloon ride down the rio grande valley!
    Brianna- New Mexico

    May 17, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
  3. Nicole

    I hope you enjoy your time in New Mexico!!!! I love this place. The food is great and so are the people!!

    May 17, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
  4. John F.J. Sullivan

    Great dispatch, both because of the newspaper angle and New Mexico, which bowled me over on a vacation there two years ago (even though it was in December).

    If you hit Santa Fe, there's not a single bad meal to be found, whether in a breakfast joint, roadhouse, bar or chichi restaurant on La Plaza. And don't miss the Chuck Jones Gallery!

    May 17, 2010 at 11:23 am |
  5. JSingleton

    Anita's Mexican Restaurant In Albuquerque is fantastic...I hope Anita is still going strong...knew her from her other location in Vienna Virginia...Love New Mexico but it's only problem is...no ocean

    May 17, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  6. Tammy Christine

    Let us know where and when you will be in albuquerque..

    May 17, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  7. Lisamarie

    Tom,
    I thought today was going to be a bummer
    you seemed to change that around in a few sentences!
    Going to e-mail this to a 24 year old reporter who just got laid off
    from her local paper, they told her she picked the wrong major.
    Reporting well, can never be wrong.
    Have a great day!

    May 17, 2010 at 9:36 am |
  8. Matt

    Enjoy your time here! Make sure to hit up a green chile cheeseburger or two so you can really get a taste for life here!

    May 17, 2010 at 9:35 am |

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