Let me just admit first off that we news people, in general, are a unique breed.
I at first wrote ‘strange’ but then I thought that could be offensive to some fellow reporters and/or editors so let’s just call us unique.
We work horrendous hours, plenty of nights and weekends, often go far afield in our newsgathering duties, earn relatively low pay, etc., etc.
That’s not the unique part, though. What’s unique is that we do all this willingly and, for the most part, really enjoy it.
Here’s an interesting little tidbit about things that make the newsroom happy that most people could care less about.
We recently got our scanner back.
Of course we have (more than one) police and fire scanner in the office but we had been unable to hear the ‘traffic’ from the Oakdale Police Department in the past couple of months. Our office is in Oakdale, though we do cover our Escalon and Riverbank communities out of that office as well, but we can more quickly respond to incidents in and around Oakdale when that scanner goes off.
Well, it turns out that the department had switched to another cell tower and something had changed with the frequency – it took a while to figure that out, then we had to enlist the assistance of Mr. Butterfield at Butterfield’s Jewelers just down the street and across the way from our Oakdale office. More knowledgeable than we are about such things, he was able to program in the new frequency and you would have thought we were kids on Christmas morning. Just hearing our local cops running a license plate, getting dispatched to an incident … we were so happy to be ‘connected’ once again. Most of the time, the scanner serves just as background noise but when it’s a department in one of our communities, the ears definitely perk up.
Being able to keep tabs on the emergency/police response and know whether or not it is something we should follow up makes us feel like we are no longer in the dark.
Of course with the emergence of social media, plenty of people weigh in on incidents but many times those posts are primarily based on opinions or suspicions, not fact, and we obviously have to get the facts from the departments involved before we put any information out there.
Suffice to say, we are extremely happy to be back in the know.
On a more personal note, we have successfully made it through the graduation season, with the final commencement this past Friday, June 2 as Escalon High School sent its senior Cougars off with a flourish. The Mustangs and Bruins graduated previously. In fact, the final week of May and the first week of June are always a blur for us at the papers, as we typically have some final sports events to cover, the Memorial Day holiday and the start of graduations, from middle schools, alternative education programs and the local high schools. We all take a collective breath here in the newsroom when the last graduation is over. Then we can start planning to take a little time off, here and there, throughout the summer. It has been a long haul since August.
We also are excited to welcome a summer intern for the next couple of months, Autumn Neal, a recent OHS graduate, who will spend some time with us in June and July before heading off to college. She did a ‘job shadow’ day through the local Chamber of Commerce and, as sometimes happens, it morphed into a summer job opportunity. From my perspective, it’s always good to welcome in someone new, show them how we do our job and demonstrate what we bring to the community. And to have that person eager to learn and approach the work with excitement and curiosity is a bonus; we get to share some knowledge with an enthusiastic young learner and I think we all end up better for the experience.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.