‘Selling out’ to the ‘Evil Empire’ | SierraSun.com

‘Selling out’ to the ‘Evil Empire’

Joining the “Evil Empire” never hurt so good.

That’s right, folks, by the time you read this column I will have taken my new post as “parareporter” on the sports desk of the Reno Gazette-Journal. Don’t worry, it’s not a malicious plot to go to a competitive newspaper (the reason why they might be considered “evil” by Sierra Sun standards), and it’s definitely not the easiest decision I’ve ever made.

If you’re wondering, it seemed like the most obvious thing to do for three reasons: 1) I live in Reno, 2) It will be beneficial at this point in my career to get the daily newspaper experience, and 3) No longer will I have to venture on the semi truck-dominant, CalTrans-infested, tourist-staring, elderly-fearing, and always-risky Interstate 80 West commute.

(Actually, I owe some self-growth to the over-salted, pot-hole stricken freeway. The Matt Brown who feared for his life while driving his Nissan Sentra in the “horrible” Thanksgiving 2003 storm turned into a more confident 4-wheelin’ Matt Brown by January 2005.)

Those are all the logical reasons behind my move, but it will also correspond with an exciting time at the RGJ. In the coming weeks, the newspaper will institute a redesign, which will give what is now a fairly bland newspaper ” although very consistent and thorough in its coverage ” a much-needed makeover. And I’m told, at least in the first few months, that I will become a fundamental part of the sports page design team.

Obviously, none of this would have been possible if not for my 13 wonderful months at “The Sun” spent in a perfect learning environment: Small office, friendly co-workers, a great community and the freedom to write in one of the most diverse regions when it comes to sports coverage. Literally, there is a mountain of opportunity here that lends itself to much more than prep sports coverage.

The great thing about my working at the Sierra Sun is that I had the freedom to leave my own trademark on the newspaper in both the design and writing aspects. That’s what makes it such a beneficial starting point in journalism. Heck, I even tried drawing a weekly sports cartoon, but I soon realized that it would pile work on to an already demanding schedule.

I’d have to say my biggest strength as sports editor was balanced coverage of prep sports (if you disagree, I have written more than once that the coverage of high school sports is directly parallel to the amount of information received by outside sources or accessibility of events). I thought prep sports were important because I grew up and played football and baseball in a small town (Middletown, Calif.) similar to Truckee, and I would read the local paper specifically for its high school coverage. There’s always ESPN.com if you prefer national sports coverage.

As far as evaluating my weaknesses, I’ll let the surrounding community decide that, but I will say that suggestions and feedback are always welcome here. That was something I didn’t get enough of during my stint, but I also figured “No news is good news” is the basic rule of thumb in this business.

The beauty of “the Sun” is that future sports editors can take the Sports and Outdoors page in other directions, but I predict a million phone calls would light up Mr. Sports Editor’s phone if high school sports were ignored completely. Although I wish I could have produced more, I had the opportunity to write features about many local sports figures whose accomplishments transcend even the Tahoe area. I was always amazed at how much activity some Tahoe-ans are able to cram into their lives.

I will always consider myself lucky to have started my professional life in one of the most beautiful places on earth combining two of my passions: Sports and writing. I have analyzed the Sports Page ever since I could read, and beyond my absurd childhood dream to become a professional athlete, by the time I got to college I could realistically imagine myself writing about sports.

I can look in the mirror and say I gave it my all here, and I wouldn’t be going to the Reno Gazette if that wasn’t the case. I apologize for any mistakes I made, but that’s The Challenge in a profession that demands perfection.

When I make it big (ha ha), I promise I will never forget my roots. I must go now. The dark side beckons me.

[Matt Brown is former sports editor of the Sierra Sun.]