Editor’s Notebook: So long and thanks for the memories
In my four winters in the Sierra Nevada, I have noticed a fascinating inversion when it comes to reporting on the weather.
Basically, the farther someone actually is from the snow, the worse the storm apparently becomes.
In Reno, for instance, an 8-inch storm becomes a foot of snow on their TV station reports. But in Sacramento media, an 8-inch storm becomes a 2 to 3-foot deluge the likes of which mankind has never seen before.
Don’t even get me started on San Francisco, where snow apparently is only measured in feet, because I’ve never seen a Sierra storm reported as being less than a foot down there. Maybe it’s the ocean air, it magnifies things.
Now, the ski resorts up here also have a tendency to — shall we say “inflate”? — the powder figures. I don’t blame them at all for this — after all, they’re in the business of getting people to hit the slopes. We’re used to getting a press release from X or Y Ski Area reporting 3 feet of powder on a morning when I didn’t even have to shovel the driveway over here.
Snow becomes a fact of life up here, and after a while you learn to shrug off the hyperbole of it all and just enjoy the quiet, calm white silence that descends on town after a really good dump.
Sure, in a day or so we’ll get flooded with flatlanders coming up to ski some powder (and if it’s a weekend you don’t go near Interstate 80 on Sunday afternoon), but right as the storm is breaking, if you’re sitting inside by the fire and sipping hot cocoa, there’s no finer place to be.
The guy I always feel sorry for is the Blue Canyon Guy. You know the Blue Canyon Guy. He’s the one that KCRA, or other Sacramento TV stations, sends up to the snow line at Blue Canyon to report to flatlanders on all the snow we’re getting.
I imagine this assignment tends to go to the newsroom rookies, who get to scurry up the hill and stand there, wide-eyed and shivering, as snow falls on their perfectly-coiffed newsroom hair. It’s their initiation into the wonderful realm of television journalism.
“Wow, that looks like a lot of snow up there, Bob!” the newscaster back in Sacramento will say, watching Bob freeze his khaki pants off.
“Sure is, Judy!” Bob will say, through gritted teeth.
Off camera, the rest of the newsroom is laughing their heads off, as snowflakes the size of Bob’s microphone begin to pelt him.
To us in the mountains, Blue Canyon Guy (or Girl, to be egalitarian) appears to serve the purpose of reinforcing the obvious — hey, it’s snowing up there!
I don’t really know what journalistic niche Blue Canyon Guy fulfills that a weather radar map doesn’t, except it is kind of fun to watch the TV and laugh at the flatlander reporter shivering in the snow.
All this snow talk is a convenient way for me to bury this bit at the end of the column –Eregretfully, as some of you in the community already know by now, this week marks my last as editor of the Sierra Sun.
I have accepted an editor’s position at one of our sister daily papers, The News-Review in Roseburg, Oregon, and my wife and I will be making the trek up there just in time for April 1.
I’ve been working here in the Tahoe-Truckee area for just shy of four years now, first as the editor of the late, great North Shore Truckee ACTION publication and then as the Sun’s head honcho since mid-2000.
The Sun’s seen a lot of changes in the mere 21 months or so I’ve been here D we moved to our new offices in November 2000 (and still at least once a week get someone stumbling in here, red-faced and irritated because they didn’t know we moved). We also finally accomplished a total redesign of the paper that had been in the works for many years, dragging it out of the ’70s and into something resembling a modern newspaper in appearance.
There’s way too many great folks to thank in this column for their kindnesses to me (and I do have to abide by my own word-count limit on thank you letters), so consider yourselves all thanked in absentia.
I would like to single out the excellent young reporters I’ve worked with in my time here — Abby Hutchison, Darin Olde, Lara Mullin, Erich Sommer, Jeff Clemetson and Katherine Morris. Good reporters truly are the glue that keeps the paper together, so treat ’em nice.
Hopefully you’ll treat the next editor of the Sierra Sun with the fine hospitality you’ve shown me here, and I will always consider Truckee to have been a highlight of my journalism career.
Many thanks, and adios.
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Olympic House was empty but for some maintenance workers and all those ghosts.