- Associated Press - Thursday, June 5, 2014

ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) - A longtime northern New Mexico newspaperman known for being a steadfast champion of watchdog community journalism has died.

Robert E. Trapp spent nearly all of his journalism career with the weekly Rio Grande Sun in Espanola. He was 87.

Son Robert B. Trapp, the Sun’s current managing editor, confirmed his father’s death Sunday at a Santa Fe hospital.

The son said Thursday that his father ceased day-to-day management of the paper in 2000 but continued writing editorials and still held the titles of editor and publisher.

The elder Trapp and his wife, Ruth, founded the Sun with another couple in 1956. The Trapps assumed full ownership in 1960.

The Sun over the years published stories on public school embezzlement, heroin addiction and trafficking, and controversial public figures, and it filed lawsuits to obtain public records.

“He never backed down. He assigned us to look into unsolved murders . and a heroin-trafficking ring up there. He was behind us every step of the way,” former Sun reporter Sally Denton told the Santa Fe New Mexican (https://bit.ly/1kNaXvx ).

Kevin Bersett, a former Sun reporter and news editor, said Trapp approached every story as an investigative story.

“Even a minor crime - you were supposed to dig and verify that that’s what people said. That was an attitude that was instilled in the paper since the 1950s,” Bersett said. “That paper was always the public watchdog.”

Trapp was one of the founders of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government in 1989 and served as president of the New Mexico Press Association starting in 1979. The association inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 2000.

Ruth Trapp died in January.

Besides Robert B. Trapp, survivors include daughter Julie Ann Trapp of Santa Fe and son James Trapp of Buena Vista, Colorado.



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