David Bunker: A hyperbole-free goodbye
November 3, 2008
Newspaper job ads are notorious for their hyperbole. It’s actually a skill you are taught in newspaper management training ” “Hyperbole and Hiring: How words like ‘top-notch,’ ‘fast-growing’ and ‘self-starter’ can change your company.”
All right, I can’t vouch for the accuracy of that title because I was busy slapping myself in the face to keep from dozing off during my management training, but it’s close.
The ad I responded to at the Sierra Sun five years ago was light on hyperbole. Perhaps that’s why I eagerly applied.
The ad omitted: “Do you enjoy watching paint dry? Have you ever stared at an off-white wall so long that your eyes have bugged out of their sockets? If you enjoy these activities, and are physically capable of writing an 600-word story about the experience, our meeting reporter job is perfect for you.”
I entered the Sun newsroom at a time when there seemed to be a five-hour meeting every night. Development in the Martis Valley was just beginning to be challenged; Gray’s Crossing was nearing approval; Truckee was updating its general plan. Sometimes I think local officials convened long meetings over nothing in particular, just to play a prank on the new Sierra Sun reporter.
Although I like to poke fun, the issues were enormously important. I watched the decisions being made at those meetings, then saw logging trucks roll into the Martis Valley to make room for bulldozers to shape roads. Those votes at the Truckee Town Council or Placer Supervisor meetings gradually materialized into rows of homes.
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Five years later, Truckee’s a different town, and the Sierra Sun’s a different newspaper (Just for fun I looked back on my former editor Jim Scripps’ farewell column published in the Sun. He commented on how Truckee will gradually adjust to the new two-day-a-week schedule of the Sun.)
Despite the changes, the heart and soul of the community ” its people ” hasn’t changed much.
They say that a journalist is only as good as his or her sources. And most of the inspiring, altruistic, knowledgeable people who I first met when I arrived ” people like Steve Frisch, Perry Norris, Lisa Wallace, Dave Gotschall, Tony Lashbrook, Richard Anderson, Ruth Hall, Sylvia Doignon and Diana Cristales ” are still around.
Truckee’s still a first-class community. That’s why, although I’m leaving the Sun, I hope to stay in town.
It’s been my immense pleasure to write your stories, and I hope in some small way I did a measure of justice to the wonderful community this is.
There are a few Sierra Sun veterans who have moved on who I can thank for priceless advice and critiques ” Jamie Bate, Jim Scripps, Jody Poe and Renee Shadforth.
And, of course, there are those still at the Sun who have been great co-workers.
A few on-the-job experiences will last a lifetime in my memory bank” interviewing 95-year-old Sierra Valley rancher Attilio Genasci, or sitting with destitute East African ski workers over a bubbling hot plate dinner and talking about the struggles of seasonal low-wage employment.
And the list could go on, but I gotta get out of here. I fear if I continue writing I may begin to hyperbolize.
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