Editor column: Random snippets from the editor’s notebook | SierraSun.com

Editor column: Random snippets from the editor’s notebook

Kevin MacMillan

I should start this off by saying my “editor’s notebook” isn’t really a steno pad anymore. As I told one of our contributors Tuesday morning over eggs and oatmeal at Squeeze In in Truckee, my notebook lives within my laptop, which I haul everywhere.

Some journalists have sworn away the old school pen-and-paper notepads in lieu of the convenience afforded by laptops, tablets and smartphones to allow for faster note-taking and real-time reporting.

It’s all part of the newer era of media, one that’s evolving with each passing day, one we at the Sun continue to embrace — and one that some of those old school pen-and-paper editors love to scoff at.

Regardless — old school or new school, as long as you get the information correct and quote accurately, that’s all that matters.

For me, perhaps the most important section within my digital notebook is my email, and it’s from there I’d like to share two items of recent interest.

In October, I wrote the column, “Moral dilemmas and thrift stores,” in which I shared a true story of a person paying $125 for a rug at a local nonprofit thrift store, only for the store to find out it was really worth $5,700.

Later, staff couldn’t negotiate a compromise of $800 or $1,000 because the person said the purchase was rightfully made and there is no obligation, legally or personally, to do such a thing. I asked readers to weigh in on this moral dilemma, and here are a few email responses:

• “Publish the buyer’s name in the paper. It would be different if it had been marked at $125, but this person obviously knew the value and pushed to take advantage of both a good meaning volunteer, but the charity too. I understand you probably can’t but that’s what I’d love to see!”

• “The store should have declined to sell the rug until researched. The nonprofit thrift store … should have never called the man asking for more money. Store’s mistake — karma works both ways.

• “What if the person donates the rug back to the thrift store. Then takes a tax deduction for the full value of $5,700. This is not an uncommon practice with other items such as wine. Win win situation.”

• “If we make a mistake, we need to be responsible for the outcome. Yes, be ready and able to take sole ownership. Everyone makes mistakes — what defines us is what we do after the mistake has been made. … In knowing that everyone makes mistakes, a second judgment of character is what we do to help those who have made a mistake. No one should ever be forced to pay for another person’s mistake, but those who are willing to see a way to help are the type of people you would want to associate and are of higher moral character. Those who would force or expect others to contribute are of lower moral character.”

I received a few more emails, but the above four capture all the opinions (and they were by far the most literate, too).

I found it interesting how quickly some were to criticize the store for failing to do an adequate job, as my initial knee-jerk was the person should have agreed to pay more in an effort to help the community, while also gathering a little good karma.

But, that’s what’s great about sharing opinions and seeking feedback — when we allow others to participate (civilly) in the conversation, a far greater light is shed on the issue, which is better for everyone.

By the way, the final comment above is my favorite.


I’ve received a good deal of feedback on my recent columns on addiction and alcoholism. People have thanked me for mentioning these problems and for hammering home the point there is always help. Printing a web URL of all regional Alcoholics Anonymous meetings was also very much appreciated.

But below is a reader email in response to last week’s column that I’m glad I received, because it’s something I overlooked:

• “I would like to point out you missed an opportunity to give support to families and friends. Al-Anon meetings give support and understanding of this disease to those loved ones struggling with their alcoholic. Truckee has two meetings a week and all meetings abide by anonymity of those who attend. It is not only the addicted individual that needs support.”

This is an excellent point. For those unfamiliar, Al-Anon and Alateen family group meetings offer “a window of hope … and help for families and friends of alcoholics,” as the organization’s motto shares.

As the reader above correctly states, it’s not just the addicts who go through a form of suffering. Luckily, there are an abundance of Al-Anon meetings in the Northern Nevada and Tahoe/Truckee area. To learn where and when, visit the following link: http://www.nevadaal-anon.org/meetinglist.html .

Also, in case you missed it last week, here’s that URL again on all the AA meetings available in our area: laketahoearea-alcoholicsanonymous.com .

— Kevin MacMillan is managing editor of the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza newspapers; he may be reached for comment at kmacmillan@sierrasun.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin1MacMillan.

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