It’s the slowest and fastest of times here at the newspaper.
Industry-wide, newspapers tend to shrink around the holidays as controversies settle, governments close and people leave for vacation. The issues don’t go away, but many a city council and school board will meet from here out mainly to tie up loose ends and give the final seal of approval on organized holiday cheer.
Replacing these issues are more community-minded stories and photos. Affordable housing swaps places with gift giving, environmental impact reports turn into tree lightings and planning a design review at the very least can be done over a free Thanksgiving meal.
That’s not to say we won’t bring you breaking news as it happens. We will, but hopefully we can break some good news if it does come.
I’ve wondered sometimes if the many photos we run of Santa — who shifts between needing glasses and not and can gain or lose 60 pounds in an hour — leads our younger readers to concoct some sort of conspiracy theory. How does Santa pose with kids in Windsor and Sebastopol within five minutes of each other? Well, children, the answer is simple: magic. Don’t believe me? Well it’s printed right here and like they say, if it’s in the paper, it must be true.
There are traditions like these that newspapers capture all across the country, if not the world. As it is my first Christmas in California, I will be interested to see what touches our communities put on such staples. In the Healdsburg Tribune, for example, we run letters from students of Alexander Valley School on what they are thankful for. Spoiler alert: this year’s most thanked are our firefighters.
On a lighter note, I’d be interested to hear about any funny or unusual holiday traditions you and yours enjoy. If you do something a little out of the ordinary, email your editor and let her know at email@example.com. We’ll put you in the paper.
All this cheer brings a bittersweet break from the hustle of reporting on the Kincade Fire, which was so busy it seemed like it took months covering. Bittersweet because it also signals the beginning of the early deadline season.
Newspapers are not immune to the pull of taking time off for the holidays. We do our best to let our staff take a day off on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. But news never sleeps and as a result, the paper must be delivered early.
So this also marks the time of the year when journalists begin to forget what day it is, looking further to the future of a deadline than normal. It’s the time of cramming two days of work into one, similar to cramming that second overloaded plate into my stomach. And yes, sometimes it means going out and working during the holiday anyway. For me, it will be photos of the local Turkey Trot, an exciting event that has the added bonus of occurring bright and early.
So, I would be remiss to not thank my staff for all the hard work they do year round to bring you the news. Often it involves late nights and an impossible-to-cram-into-40-hours workload. Cutting yet another day off that seems cruel, but either I have a bunch of masochists for coworkers or the most driven group I’ve had the pleasure working with.
But all this added holiday stress also reminds me that there are others working during the busiest times of the year. Showing a little extra patience to grocery store workers, for instance, would be nice, as they reorganize stores bigger than football fields to make what you want easier to find.
We should all do what we can to make all our fellow residents feel a little better working during the holidays.