Alan Riquelmy: Wondering what happened | SierraSun.com
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Alan Riquelmy: Wondering what happened

The editor, sitting at his computer, patted the armrests of his chair.

“One day, this could be yours,” he said.

In this industry for under a year, I already had my doubts about that. I’d seen one editor unceremoniously booted out the door after four months on the job. The editor sitting in his chair, musing on my own future in journalism, would join him in a few short months.

“Editor” appeared to be a bullseye painted on your back. No thank you.

That’s what we’re here for: to listen to your stories, and share them with the community.

What I’ve learned after almost 20 years in this business is that cynicism doesn’t always equate to reality, despite some journalists’ desire. That paper liked to chew up editors. Not all of them do.

What I’ve also learned is that sometimes the bad bosses have more to teach you than the good ones. There’s a lot of things I avoid doing because I’ve seen how those actions play out.

So, like I imagine most of us are, I’m an amalgam of the good and the bad, the dejected days and the triumphant ones.

And for right now, at least, I’m the acting editor of The Union and the Sierra Sun, taking the place of Brian Hamilton, who’s moving on to greener pastures.

I’ve seen the editors who come in and reshape the paper in their image. Redesign the print product, put their stamp on each page. Then there are the editors who kick back, enjoy the community’s social circuit and become mysteriously absent when big news breaks.

Somewhere along the way they forgot the mission: Lead the newspaper in providing the best coverage it can. Represent the paper in a professional manner. Build upon existing successes and always strive to improve.

I’ve lived in four communities while working in this industry, covering wildly different topics for very different people. Despite the varied landscapes, two things remained constant: People want to be treated with respect, and they want to be heard. They might not always like what they hear in return, but more often than not they’ll walk away satisfied that someone listened to them.

That’s what we’re here for: to listen to your stories, and share them with the community. There will be good and bad, triumph and tragedy, and everything in between. Regardless of the subject, our reporters will listen, gather the best information they can and provide their readers with the news.

Working in newspapers isn’t like the widget factory. There’s no blueprint for how to do this job, no secret sauce for perfection. Some of us have journalism degrees, but not all of us. Regardless, sitting in a classroom is no substitute for running to a fire or covering a court case in real time.

We learn by doing, and from those of us who have been in this industry for years. We learn from our mistakes, do our best to correct them, and vow to never repeat them.

And we learn from you, the community we cover. Tell us about your events. Take some photos and send them our way. Share your stories with Nevada County. That’s what we’re here for.

At the end of each local story you’ll see contact information for the reporter who wrote it. We’re not always at our desks because of the pandemic, but we’re connected remotely. Reach out to us through email. We want to hear from you.

I’m at alan@theunion.com. Give me a shout and let us know how we’re doing, and what you’d like to see in the newspaper.

And when things return to normal, and we’re all back in our offices, swing by The Union when you get the chance. I’ll be in my chair, patting the armrests, wondering what happened.

Contact Acting Editor Alan Riquelmy at ariquelmy@theunion.com or 530-477-4239.


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