Brian Hamilton: One and inseparable, indeed
Twenty years ago this month I first stepped through the front doors of The Union.
Soon after, I took a leap, stuffing my Ford Escort with all that would fit — including my black Lab. My mom rode in the backseat, insisting “Buk” ride shotgun across the 2,000-mile move, because, well, “He’s used to riding up front.”
It wasn’t long after I’d landed from that leap, that I took another after meeting the love of my life — while back home again in Indiana for Christmas. And so I leapt again, all the way across I-80 for the second time in two years.
A third trip the following year finally brought us back, for good, here to Nevada County, where we’ve made our home and life together.
I might have come for the snowboarding, and the ink in my veins, but we stayed for the community, and the way it embraced us — as it has for so many of you.
And now, after all these years, it’s time for another leap.
I’m leaving the paper.
Saying those words out loud, let alone writing them, is weird. But it’s time.
I was lucky to know my career path early on, inspired by my uncle’s sports column tacked on my grandma’s fridge when I was 14 years old. A couple years later, I’d joined the staff of the North Star, my high school newspaper, and I’ve been writing for newspapers ever since.
I loved sports writing, particularly in a small community like ours, both for the thrill of the games as well as the relationships with those playing, coaching and supporting them. Watching our community’s kids grow and chase their dreams, and then start the cycle again with their own children years later, made the experience about much more than wins and losses.
Looking back, that’s largely because I was growing right alongside them, learning from each story and each new source — like the Little Leaguers who taught me early on questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no” likely will be, and that shutting up and letting people talk leads to a whole lot more interesting perspectives for the notebook.
About a decade ago, I stepped away from the sports desk to lead this newsroom. Though that move covered all of about 15 feet across the carpet, it was a leap all its own — out of my comfort zone and into a new role of serving the paper, its readers and my colleagues. It was a scary proposition, but an opportunity with too much promise of making a difference to pass up.
The people who live here, the way we rally for each other, gave me the confidence in knowing that as long as this community was our focus they would support our efforts. And that’s been proven true to me throughout these past 10 years — on both ends of the county with The Union to the west and east to the Sierra Sun, and our Truckee Tuesday trips, over the past three years.
The people who take the time to give me a call, send an email, write a letter to the editor, submit a photo or volunteer on our editorial board, they’re what makes the connection between this community and its newspaper truly The Union I cherish and of which I’ve been a proud member. Thank you for that.
The people who trust us to share their stories, who help our journalists do their jobs, who show their support through subscriptions and advertisements are what make this crazy business still even a possibility since it was first put to press 156 years ago. Your contributions are never taken for granted.
And it’s the people who I’ve been blessed to call our own in this newsroom that actually make this daily miracle a reality.
These people — noble people, humble people, good people — are absolutely worthy of your support in their commitment to connect this community in ways that extend well beyond the words and images we publish.
The list is long of those I’ve worked alongside under The Union and Sierra Sun flags and there’s not a single one who’s been out to get someone, who’s purposefully gotten the story wrong or who deserves to be on the receiving end of angry outbursts or ridicule, let alone being called the enemy of the people.
You all deserve so much more. Those who have called our newsroom their home away from home, from high school interns to our long-serving staff members, have my sincere gratitude for the dedication, talent and teamwork they’ve brought each day. And knowing the committed, competent and capable hands now publishing this paper only confirms that it’s time for me to step away.
Truth be told, though, this change doesn’t feel as much of a leap, knowing that with each of those we’ve made through the years have worked out beyond our hopes and dreams. That’s been mostly due to my wife and I working toward a common goal, particularly through her support of my career by taking on jobs — from newspaper carrier to office manager to physical trainer — to make things work for us.
This time it’s my turn to have Betsy’s back, as she continues to build her own business, and also her role as our family’s “maker of all things happening.” I’m looking forward to spending much more time with her — and our girls, Vivian and Ana — as we leap together toward our future.
No doubt it’s bittersweet to leave something you’ve loved for so long, but each day I pick up The Union or the Sierra Sun, I’ll do so with an immense sense of pride and satisfaction for all the work we’ve done, and all that my colleagues continue to do. They will have no better advocate nor bigger fan than yours truly for all the thankless hard work that goes into each day’s edition.
As those words state beneath the flag on the front page each day, my own union with this community and its newspaper will always be one and inseparable.
Thank you. It’s been my pleasure, and my honor, to be your editor.
Brian Hamilton is the Editor of The Union and the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4249.
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