Late in the year 2012, we came to interview for the editor’s job at the Appeal-Democrat.
It was snowing and cold where we left from and it was balmy and pleasant here and we parked next to a lemon tree drooping with fruit at the Harkey House.
We were impressed by the community and the business, and felt lucky to land the job, leading a team of 34 people and producing a seven-day daily and four twice-weekly papers.
That’s about when the paper was sold. Then it was sold again. And then there were cuts ... to be expected, but relentless. Today, we’re a newsroom staff of seven people putting out a five-day daily and one weekly publication per week, and Prospect Magazine once a month.
What’s the future look like? For me, it looks like retirement.
If I were a 30-year-old, I’d be awfully tempted to stick with journalism. I’m pretty sure things will work out, but I’m pretty sure it will be a lot different. Yet, I believe journalism is needed to the extent that, sooner or later, a workable business plan will rise to the surface.
A good time to take up the cause ... if you’re a 30-something.
I’m also sure the Appeal-Democrat will live on. And I’m also sure that my colleagues here at the Appeal – in the newsroom and in the various other departments – will be doing their best to bring you the best product possible, given the resources available.
In the meanwhile, time for me to say goodbye.
I’ve loved my career, working at papers in western Nebraska, around the Northwest and finally here. I’ve been trading Facebook comments with past workmates and remember a host of good causes that my preferred brand of community-oriented journalism accommodated. I know we made a difference.
– I’m proud of our news coverage, as well as our opinion page advocacy, for Casa de Esperanza. The shelter for victims of domestic abuse is an important element. Here, like most places, domestic violence in one form or another consistently amounts to about a third of all felony arrests. Here’s hoping that local government and community support continues.
– I’m proud of our coverage of the homelessness issue. It’s a protean issue and one of our problems, as well as the main problem for the entire community, was keeping up with and addressing the multitude of twists and turns that the issue takes. Poverty, mental health, lack of available housing, lifestyles, drug abuse ... it’s complicated and expensive, but it must be attended to.
(While we’re on the topic, we’d note the respect we have for the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Eight years ago, it looked like the local chapter would slip away. It was revitalized and is now a very robust and helpful organization.)
– I’ll never forget covering the Oroville Dam crisis. It was a Sunday afternoon when the warnings came in that the dam could break down and a wall of water descend on us all downriver. Evacuation was mandatory and we sent all our employees on their way. But what about the next day’s print edition?
We joined the thousands on an hours-long trip to the Sacramento area and higher ground... and we had a couple reporters/photographers sending in info that I read and edited on my iPhone in the car, as my wife navigated the traffic jam. I sent files on to an assistant editor who had made it to our sister paper in Lodi. He put pages together and the Lodi press printed our edition.
There are many other things ... the terrible wildfires and how the communities affected by them dealt with the calamities; the Yuba Water Agency taking control of dams and powerhouses and generating millions in revenues that can be used for the good of the county; the incredible amount of volunteer work that is done here ... and a final plug for all those groups that make this a community, more than most, that cares about veterans (please continue supporting the wonderful Museum of the Forgotten Warriors).
Kudos and best wishes to my newsroom compatriots: Jeff Larson, David Wilson, Lynzie Lowe, Ruby Larson, Jake Abbott and Julie Johnson. And thanks to the publisher and all the folks in all the other departments.
Thanks, everyone, for letting me be your community news editor.
Ugh: The last ugh ... a friend supplied us with this treasure trove of bad dad jokes. Cherish them:
1. Dad, are we pyromaniacs? Yes, we arson.
2. What do you call a pig with laryngitis? Disgruntled.
3. Writing my name in cursive is my signature move.
4. Why do bees stay in their hives during winter? Swarm.
5. If you’re bad at haggling, you’ll end up paying the price.
6. Just so everyone’s clear, I’m going to put my glasses on.
7. A commander walks into a bar and orders everyone around.
8. I lost my job as a stage designer. I left without making a scene.
9. Never buy flowers from a monk. Only you can prevent florist friars.
10. How much did the pirate pay to get his ears pierced? A buccaneer.
11. I once worked at a cheap pizza shop to get by. I kneaded the dough.
12. My friends and I have named our band “Duvet.” It’s a cover band.
13. I lost my girlfriend’s audiobook, and now I’ll never hear the end of it.
14. Why is ‘dark’ spelled with a k and not c? Because you can’t see in the dark.
15. Why is it unwise to share your secrets with a clock? Well, time will tell.
16. When I told my contractor I didn’t want carpeted steps, they gave me a blank stare.
17. Bono and The Edge walk into a Dublin bar and the bartender says, “Oh no, not U2 again.”
18. Prison is just one word to you, but for some people, it’s a whole sentence.
19. Scientists got together to study the effects of alcohol on a person’s walk, and the result was staggering.
20. I’m trying to organize a hide and seek tournament, but good players are really hard to find.
21. I got over my addiction to chocolate, marshmallows, and nuts. I won’t lie, it was a rocky road.
22. What do you say to comfort a friend who’s struggling with grammar? There, their, they’re.
23. I went to the toy store and asked the assistant where the Schwarzenegger dolls are and he replied, “Aisle B, back.”
24. What did the surgeon say to the patient who insisted on closing up their own incision? Suture self.
25. I’ve started telling everyone about the benefits of eating dried grapes. It’s all about raisin awareness.