Former Tahoe World, Bonanza editor remembered for incredible integrity
Nine years ago, Tanya Canino took a chance on a 22-year-old newbie reporter out of Michigan by hiring current Sierra Sun-Bonanza editor Kevin MacMillan.
Click here to read MacMillan’s comments on Tanya’s passing and her impact on the North Shore.
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — It’s fair to say that if you wanted to argue with Tanya Canino about the correct way to do something — whether it be a project around the house or the accuracy of a headline about Lake Tahoe news — the odds of you winning were not very good.
“Anybody who knew her probably recognizes right away her integrity and desire to get things right, and that’s why the newspaper was perfect for her. She liked deadlines, and it wasn’t just the deadline rush, but that ‘it’s going to be done right when it hits the deadline,’” Tanya’s husband, Tom Canino, said Tuesday. “She works that way, she trained her students at SNC that way … and even working around the house, she didn’t compromise on that — getting things done the way she wanted them done.
“That was who she was.”
Tanya Canino, a 30-year North Lake Tahoe resident and former editor of the Tahoe World and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza newspapers, died Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, after a long battle with cancer.
She was 55.
A newswoman … and a family woman
Canino grew up in Hutchinson, Kansas, and attended Kansas State University. When she got out of college, she traveled to New Zealand and Australia, before returning to her home state in 1985 to work as a reporter at the Hays Daily News in Hays, Kansas.
After a year there, she moved west to Lake Tahoe to begin work in 1986 as a reporter with the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza in Incline Village, back when the office was in the Village Shopping Center, with the byline of Tanya Branson, her maiden name.
She married Tom Canino in 1988, and after some travels, she returned to Tahoe to live in Carnelian Bay and write freelance articles for the Sacramento Bee and Reno Gazette-Journal, among other work.
In the early ‘90s, Canino returned to work in Tahoe City as editor of the Swift Communications-owned Tahoe World, when it was the North Shore’s weekly newspaper.
“We were having kids back then (Casey was the first). When she went back to the World, right after our second child (Erin) was born, she would bring her to work with her,” said Tom Canino, who’s worked for years as a coach and teacher at Incline High School. “I remember, she had a set-up under her desk with a little baby chair and everything.”
By the mid-‘90s, after the Caninos had their third child, Sam, Tanya left the World to care for the family, working on and off for regional publications and magazines — and really, for “anybody who wanted a story,” Tom said.
Canino eventually returned in the 2000s to report news and work on copy desks at the Bonanza and other Swift Communications publications, and she was hired in March 2007 as editor of the Bonanza.
Just one year later, in March 2008, she learned she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and she took time off to endure chemotherapy and other treatments that left her weakened — but, importantly, not defeated, and eventually the disease went into remission.
In the summer of 2008, the North Tahoe and Incline Village communities rallied an incredible amount of support for Canino. Efforts included a North Lake Tahoe Bonanza-led “Team Tanya” campaign that culminated with a jam-packed fundraiser at the Hacienda de la Sierra in Incline, where 63 items were raffled and thousands of dollars were raised for her medical bills.
Molding future journalists at Lake Tahoe
After Canino’s time at the Bonanza and Sierra Sun, June Saraceno, now English Program Chair at Sierra Nevada College, hired her in 2009 to be a journalism instructor; by 2011, Canino had become adviser to the Eagle’s Eye, the college’s student-run newspaper, a position she held until her death.
“When she took it over, (the Eagle’s Eye) was photo copied, it looked pretty bad, frankly, very substandard … and she took it up to be a good paper,” Saraceno said this week. “She connected with the Bonanza and got it on news print. She also helped develop an online newspaper for the Eagle’s Eye … and she did that by mentoring students.”
Canino’s tenacious nature also led to her legitimizing the newspaper from an integrity standpoint by guiding students through the importance of the First Amendment and to not back down when sources try to coerce a reporter to report a certain way.
“We were able to develop our program into … national journalistic standards, and Tanya’s work was very critical to that,” Saraceno said. “She had to go to our administration about freedom of the press more than once.
She put herself on the line for that; those were the days when Lynn Gillette (was president), and he wasn’t as open to that.”
Among other accomplishments at SNC Tahoe, Canino launched the Golden Quill awards for the school’s journalism program; she partnered with regional media companies to offer internships for the first time ever for students; and she was instrumental in the school creating a student position with the Eagle’s Eye that helps sell advertising — thus allowing students to realize the importance of revenue, which is used for student trips, training sessions and more.
“She grew it from a small school newspaper to a training ground that really gets students out in the community as writers,” said SNC Tahoe Associate Professor Katie Zanto, who serves as chair of Interdisciplinary Studies, the department that oversees the college’s journalism program. “She was very good at pushing students beyond what they could do; she was caring, she knew the students, she spent significant time with them and was able to push them in a way that was really invaluable.”
‘She will be missed’
In 2014 — as can often be the case with this wretched disease — Canino’s cancer returned.
“Her oncologist wanted her to go back to chemo,” her husband, Tom, said Tuesday. “But she decided after 2008, she was never going to do that again. That took a toll on her.”
So, for the past two years, the Caninos looked at alternative health care options, Tom said, which included most recently spending time at a clinic in Mexico because “those clinics can do some things that aren’t approved here.”
However, her health worsened, and she was admitted to Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista, Calif., where she died Friday morning with her family by her side.
“Well,” Tom said Tuesday, pausing for a couple seconds, “I think it’s going to be awhile to understand how deep of a loss we have. I know her family is feeling it already; the college will recognize it, some of the publications she worked for and her friends are certainly going to feel it.
“And I’m going to feel it every day.”
“For me, it’s an incalculable loss,” added Saraceno, her voice breaking as she choked back tears. “ … It wasn’t just her amazing integrity, which was a huge part of who she was, but she was fiercely invested in the students’ success, and she didn’t back down to anything that needed to be done, no matter what it cost her personally.
“She will be missed, and anyone who knew her, I don’t think we’ll recover from the loss within the foreseeable future.”
Tanya Canino is immediately survived by her husband, Tom, and her three adult children — Casey, Erin and Sam.
The Rev. Brian Larson — pastor at Calvary Chapel of Truckee, where Canino worshiped for many years and served as Children’s Ministry Director, Women’s Retreat Director and Church Secretary — will lead a memorial service at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, at Cornerstone Community Church, 300 Country Club Blvd., Incline Village.
Calvary Chapel has also established a fund to help pay for medical bills. Mail checks with “Tanya Fund” in the memo field to Calvary Chapel of Truckee, 12242 Business Park Dr., Ste. 15, Truckee, CA 96161.
Or, you may go online to goo.gl/Qy1AMT and give.