A Farewell to News
Today marks the end of my 135-week journey with The Sacramento Press. Here is my first and last editorial.
When I applied to be an intern for an online newspaper in September 2009, I never imagined it would lead me to being the editor-in-chief of anything.
In high school, I dreamed of being a writer for a newspaper or a magazine. In my college entrance exam, I wrote about how I wanted to make a difference through my writing. I wanted my voice to be heard.
I still remember when I interviewed for The Sacramento Press internship. I sat across from Ben Ilfeld and told him my goals of moving to New York to work for a major magazine. I told him I wanted to go to journalism school. Ben looked at me with a look of amusement and asked me what was wrong with Sacramento. I told him I wanted to get away from the small city and experience the “real world.”
He told me journalism school was a waste of money. Back then, I thought he just didn’t believe in “true” journalism – he didn’t have the background or the training, so what did he know, anyway?
I was part of the first group of interns, and we wrote stories as best as we knew how. I felt like a saleswoman at times, emailing city employees and selling them a product that didn’t exist yet. We sought out bloggers and asked them if they would write about Sacramento on a website and newspaper that hadn’t yet launched.
A few weeks later, The Sacramento Press went live, and our intern articles were prominently featured on the front page of this cool new online newspaper. We were lucky if we could update the front page every three days with new content.
The Sac Press had a never-ending stash of Red Bulls and plenty of gadgets to keep the co-founders entertained – a pogo stick, a remote control blow-up ninja, Nerf dart guns and a robotic dog.
In January, I was hired as journalism support manager and began training interns and coordinating workshops.
As I’ve been cleaning out my emails this week, it reminded me just how many people I’ve met from working at Sac Press. My fiancé jokes that we can’t go anywhere without seeing people I know, and 90 percent of the time I know them because of Sac Press.
I am most proud of the workshops I have helped to put together at Sac Press. We’ve hosted/took part in some 50-plus events, most of them being workshops. The collaboration was the most important part to me, and I am extremely grateful for the people we worked with in the very beginning who believed in us and who volunteered their time and knowledge to share with the community. (Ricardo Robles, Ronnie Ledesma, Jeff Marmins, Brandon Weber, Holly Heyser, Janna Marlies Maron, Jeff Louie.)
There are countless professors and media professionals who have given wonderful workshops at The Sacramento Press and I am deeply indebted to them. (Dianne Heimer, Doug Herndon, Molly Dugan, Clare Noonan, Max Whittaker, Sam Amick, Rick Kushman, JT Long, Jeffrey Callison and many others.)
Much of the time I’ve worked at Sac Press has been an uphill battle in gaining recognition and respect from both the Sacramento-area residents, but also the other media players in town.
A major breakthrough for me was when we hosted our first event with The Sacramento Bee. Our relationship with the Bee when we launched was not a friendly one.
We had to cancel one of our workshops early on because the Bee wouldn’t let its writer teach the workshop. This kind of attitude continued when we reached out to do a media panel on the topic of paywalls and charging for content. However, after an in-person meeting, we were able to break down that wall, so to speak, and have since worked on two major events together.
There were two events in particular where I felt a major sense of accomplishment. Those two events brought together representatives from the Sacramento Business Journal, Sacramento Magazine, Midtown Monthly, KVIE, the Bee, Sactown Magazine, Capital Public Radio, the Sacramento News & Review and KCRA.
Seeing the competing media outlets in one room discussing journalism was an amazing feeling.
Much of what I’ve learned has been trial by error. I made mistakes of my own as a reporter, and I watched as interns made those same mistakes and I was the one apologizing on their behalf.
Being around Ben’s and Geoff Samek’s enthusiasm for Sacramento and for community journalism was infectious. You can’t help but be inspired when you hear them talk about how much they love Sacramento and how empowered our community can be with reporting tools and a platform to commit acts of journalism.
I became editor-in-chief unexpectedly in September 2011 after being managing editor for about a year and a half. It was difficult seeing my colleague and boss, David Watts Barton, leave The Sacramento Press. I was excited to take on a new role but it was at that time that I started evaluating if this was really what I wanted.
It was around that time when I stopped enjoying the daily grind of news. It feels so good to get the scoop on a story, but the satisfaction quickly fades as another breaking development wipes out the previous story from everyone’s ADD attention span.
I was in charge of the newsroom – everything that came in and out of it, which was an exciting challenge, but it began to wear on me. The news never stops, but Colleen does.
Tuesday nights were no longer Tuesday nights but a dreaded evening when I would be tied to my computer waiting for the City Council to vote on a report or duke it out over redistricting maps.
The repetitiveness of correcting it’s to its in intern stories or fixing subject-pronoun disagreement was driving me up the wall.
And to think at one point I was seriously considering getting “news” tattooed on my wrist.
But in all seriousness, I do hold The Sacramento Press and journalism in a very special place in my heart.
I’ve been so impressed and amazed by the people I’ve met along the way. Working with community contributors, our reporters and our interns has been so rewarding. The Sacramento Press took a chance on me as an intern in bringing me on to write and encourage others to do the same.
My views on journalism and on Sacramento have changed tremendously since I’ve worked here. I no longer wish to move to New York or work for a magazine. I have grown to love Sacramento, and I plan to stay here and raise a family.
I’m no longer so concerned with hearing my own voice or being heard. It’s ironic that my career path now involves working with those who can’t hear.
I want to become a sign language interpreter – I want to give voice to others. And you could say that this desire to give voice to others has been cultivated at The Sacramento Press.
As I sign off for the final time as editor-in-chief, I want to thank the community of writers and readers who have supported this growing publication. The Sacramento Press would not be successful or relevant if it weren’t for you.
The staff at The Sacramento Press are some of the most hardworking, dedicated and crazy (in a good way) people you’ll ever meet. To really understand The Sacramento Press, you need to meet the people who keep it running day to day.
And with this, I now become a community contributor.