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Editor's View: Newspaper people are a special breed who take on a big job

By: Don Chaddock, Managing Editor
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I love my job and I’m not just writing these words because there is a new guy sitting in the publisher’s office down the hall from my desk.

Serious newspaper people do their jobs because it’s what they love. The hours are long, the complaints are plenty and the critics are waiting to skewer us for typos and poorly structured sentences.

This year marks my 24th in the ink-slinging business.

During those years I’ve seen the industry go from paste-ups to computers, from film-to-plate to direct-to-plate. I’ve seen entire departments eliminated as technology has changed the way we do business.

When I started, we didn’t have e-mail, cell phones or websites. There was no such thing as Google or Wikipedia. If I wanted to locate a source for a story, I pulled out the phonebook.

Event-style stories were always the easiest to write because all my sources were in one location. Back then, I couldn’t just shoot someone an e-mail or a text. I had to track them down the old fashioned way, at their home or office.

For me personally, I still love writing event-style stories. It puts me directly on the ground, in the thick of things and face-to-face with the sources.

In this week’s column, I’m going to pull back the curtain on some of the process to put together the newspaper currently in racks or in your hands at the breakfast table.

Monday is production day at the paper, meaning I’m at our production facility in Auburn utilizing the “centralized pagination” team. Hopefully by the end of my 10-12 hour work day, the newspapers are ready to roll on the presses. If not, I’m given a little time early Tuesday morning to replace stories for late-breaking news items or make final edits. We publish the Folsom Telegraph, El Dorado Hills Telegraph and the Telegraph Marketplace all the same day.

Tuesday found me at Rolling Hills Church in El Dorado Hills at 10 a.m. for the roll-out of the new mobile food pantry run by the Food Bank of El Dorado County. I snapped photos, spoke to people and headed back to the office to write my story and get it online that same day.

That afternoon I found myself as a passenger in a large pickup truck hauling a flat-bed trailer with Halie O’Ryan behind the wheel. She was taking me to see her new historical re-enactment camp at Rollins Lake in Colfax. I know Halie from my time when I was the editor at a different newspaper. (See the story and photos on page A1 of this week’s Telegraph.)

That took me until about 7 p.m. that evening.

On Wednesday, I managed to write that story and get it off to our sister publication, The Auburn Journal, so they could publish it in their Sunday edition. The rest of the day I focused on our websites and social media.

Thursday was much the same, with two stories to write.

Friday found me proofreading and coordinating with our reporters and staff.

Saturday found me at Oak Hills Church in Folsom for their annual egg hunt and barbecue (see page A1 of the Folsom Telegraph or folsomtelegraph.com). On Easter Sunday, I wrote the story and uploaded the photos to the website as well.

It may sound crazy, busy and a little weird, but it’s what I do. Many ask why I do it. I mentioned all the drawbacks and negative aspects of the job, but there is one solid reason why I keep doing this — the rewards.

At the egg hunt on Saturday, a man asked me if I was Don from the Telegraph. “Yes, that’s me,” I said, camera and note pad in hand. He shook my hand and said, “I just want to thank you for everything you do at the Telegraph and for our community.”

I do what I do because being a community newspaper editor is a responsibility and not one to be lightly undertaken. I do this job because I love my work and the community in which I practice my profession.

Follow Don Chaddock on Twitter @anewsguy or e-mail him at donc@goldcountrymedia.com. He can be reached at (916) 351-3753.