A-D city editor returning to his roots
Change has been the operative word in the newspaper business in recent years and the Appeal-Democrat hasn't been excluded.
Recent A-D changes have been outlined in previous columns by Editor Steve Miller — some a result of economic realities and others an attempt to better meet the needs of readers.
For me, the biggest change comes this week — well, it's not really a change. It's more like going back to my A-D roots.
Starting Monday, I will be leaving my duties as city editor at the A-D and going back to reporting. Instead of sitting behind my newsroom desk for much of the day, I will be covering Yuba County and Marysville, along with state and federal politics as it relates to Yuba-Sutter.
A former A-D publisher once told me that city editors have a shelf life of about five years before they should move to another newsroom position. It's been 81⁄2 years since former Editor Joe Calderon moved me from being sports editor into this job.
As city editor, I supervised reporters and monitored day-to-day local news content based on the policies of the editor.
I worked one-on-one with reporters in planning their stories, tried to help make their stories clearer when they needed to be and talked to readers to explain why their suggestion for a story was or wasn't newsworthy.
It isn't that city editors work harder than anybody else in the newsroom. It's just that in supervising frequently independent-minded and sometimes idealistic reporters ... well, you may have heard the saying about herding cats.
I came to the A-D as a reporter in December 1979 having worked at three papers. And I covered pretty much every beat at the A-D at one time or another (except, ironically, Yuba County) over the next 20 years.
I covered the long political, courtroom and ballot box fight for a planned new town in south Sutter County, still the most emotional and polarizing political fight during my time in Yuba-Sutter. That development, Sutter Bay, was never built.
I was part of the A-D team that covered the 1986 and 1997 floods. And I won a couple of California Newspaper Publishers Association and Associated Press awards along the way.
Still, it's been more than 12 years since I regularly carried a reporter's notebook, so, yes, there are a few nerves this weekend going into Monday. I am a little rusty in working a beat. And I'm not sure how I am now in taking notes I can actually read or how fast I am in turning a story.
But there is something satisfying about coming full circle — about finishing at the same place where you started.
As the saying goes, sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Editor's Note: We're all proud of the work Eric Vodden has performed and we're looking forward to his work, once again, as a reporter. He leaves empty an important space in the newsroom; in the short-term, chief copy editor Richard Olmsted will fill in as we search for a long-term replacement.