Jimmy Boegle didn’t start out wanting to be a newspaper editor. What he really wanted to do, since the third-grade, was be around baseball.
“I got into journalism while I was in college,” he says, “because I had the athletic ability of a turnip.”
When you first meet Boegle, you get self-deprecating humor, and the idea that he’s a man who is open, warm, gentle, focused—and anything but shy and introverted, even though he insists he is.
“When I was young,” he recalls, “I was tagged very early as gifted and talented, whatever that’s supposed to mean, but I was socially awkward and shy. Even now, put me in a room with lots of people I don’t know, and I’m still shy.”
After graduating from high school in Reno, Nevada, where he was born and raised, Boegle, 45, headed for Stanford University. He decided the way to be part of the sports world was to become a sportswriter for Stanford’s student newspaper, but covering even minor sports required attending all of the games or matches—which took up a lot of time.
“I worked my way through college,” he says, “and couldn’t do that, so I began covering events rather than sports, which didn’t require that kind of schedule.”
Between his junior and senior years of college, Boegle got an internship with the weekly newspaper in Reno, and upon graduation, he began working for The Associated Press in San Francisco.
“I had started dating a girl in my freshman year, and we were engaged, but I knew it was over when she showed up not wearing the ring the day before I graduated,” he says. “I went to work for the AP and was supposed to be there for about five months, and then they would reassess my job. After those five months, I decided to go back to Reno, and got a job with a small daily newspaper in Sparks, Nevada.”
Ah, if only our life stories unrolled in a straight line. With Jimmy Boegle, the back story is full of twists and turns.
“I was an only child,” he says. “My mom and dad had been told they couldn’t have children, so when I came along as their only child, it did lead to some smothering. My mom is still living in the same house we had in Reno since I was 8 years old. She had been a housewife, but later worked as a secretary/assistant for a real-estate appraiser. She would say, ‘If you work hard at anything, you can succeed.’
“My dad was complicated—a rural man, hunter and construction worker. He could be very loving, but also very gruff. He died in 2012, and at his memorial service, it (was a theme) that he would have given the shirt off his back for his friends if they needed it. As we had gotten older, we developed a good relationship.”
Most of Boegle’s friends in high school were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka the Mormon church, and he became a member of the church after his freshman year of college.
“Although I had some issues with the church, I saw much good there,” he says.
He said that during his freshman year of college, there was a dorm get-together during which questions were asked for the attendees to get to know one another; if the answer to the question was yes, the attendees were to go to the other side of the room, while if the answer was no (or the attendee didn’t want to answer), the attendee stayed in place. After lots of easy questions, like one’s favorite color, they asked whether attendees were attracted to the same gender.
“I knew I was different all the way back in middle school, but I had never actually known anyone who had come out as gay,” Boegle says. “At that event, seven or eight did, out of maybe 100 there. That got my mind going.”
That event helped Boegle realize he had, in the Mormon church’s terminology, a “same-gender attraction issue.” Still, he decided to try to fight the attraction—until after his engagement ended.
“I’m no longer a member of the church,” he says. “After I admitted to myself who I am, and they were pushing anti-gay-marriage ballot initiatives, I couldn’t stay. … I finally told my parents (I was gay); my mom had probably known before I did, and made it clear she loved me anyway. We agreed it was probably better if she told my dad. He wasn’t thrilled with it, but we got past all that.”
In 1999, the Reno paper he had interned with, the Reno News & Review, hired him to come back as their news editor. A short time later, even though he was just 24, the paper made him its editor. Then Sept. 11 rocked the newspaper industry, putting papers at risk all over the country as businesses could not afford to advertise.
“In October of 2001, the paper decided to cut me since I was paid the most (on the editorial staff),” Boegle says. “A month later, I got a job with Las Vegas CityLife as the political reporter and news editor.”
While he was in Las Vegas in 2002, he met a man named Garrett.
“We’re now coming up on 18 years together, five of them married. He is also from Reno, so when we go there, we get to spend time with both of our families,” Boegle says.
“The Tucson Weekly was looking for an editor (around) that time, and although I initially turned it down, they talked me into it. I was there for 10 years, before we came to Palm Springs.”
Boegle has been in Palm Springs since January 2013—when he founded the Coachella Valley Independent, because he saw the need for an independent voice dedicated to local issues and local entertainment. He has recruited writers to cover news, sports, local clubs and restaurants, local musicians and artists, theater productions and movies—and a column to acquaint locals with some of their neighbors. (Ahem.) The CVI is online and distributes a free print edition monthly throughout the Coachella Valley.
Much like what happened after Sept. 11—but far worse—the pandemic has made running a newspaper difficult, with advertising revenue disappearing. On March 13, as the reality of the pandemic was setting in, Boegle began writing a new “Daily Digest” to bring news updates and provide links to helpful information.
“This (the pandemic) is so unprecedented,” he says. “We haven’t faced anything like this since the Great Depression. I’m just trying to get the CVI through this.”
When I ask what motivates Boegle, he answers quickly: “A lot of things. Fear. The support of friends and family. … I’m blessed to know so many amazing people rooting for me to do well.”
Boegle has won many awards for his writing, and CVI has won four national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN). He is currently serving the as membership chair for AAN. For fun, he plays softball, watches the Los Angeles Dodgers, and loves good conversation with friends.
“There’s no better experience in life than sitting down with good friends and having a good meal,” he says.
What’s the best decision Jimmy Boegle ever made?
“Going on a second date with Garrett! On our first date, he kind of creeped me out – he seemed decent, but a little weird.” Now, Boegle says he most prizes Garrett, their cat and the Coachella Valley Independent.
Jimmy Boegle’s athletic ability may have been limited—but his vision for what is possible is playing out in real time.
Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show The Lovable Liberal airs from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays on IHubRadio. Email her at Anita@LovableLiberal.com. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.