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Fresh perspectives

by  JUDY HODGSON

I get the question a lot. "How do you like not being editor?"

After 12 years with the Journal, I like it a lot. (Actually, it's been a total of 18 years if you count my tenure with the old Arcata Union in the 1980s.) I have just a little more time to be grandma. Yesterday I left work early, picked up the grandkids from school and took them home to crush grapes. (My husband Bob and I have the Fieldbrook Winery.) Griffin, 6, shoveled grape skins and 4-year-old Julia drove the tractor with grandpa. Life does not get any better.

I also like being one layer removed from the finger-in-the-light-socket of the news reporting business. Just the other day a call came to the office from an angry woman complaining that last week's cover was "gross." (See "Vicious circle: Heroin use on the rise in Humboldt" by Andrew Edwards.) Journal Editor Keith Easthouse took the call and assured her we will more carefully evaluate the gross-ness of future covers.

I hope the woman complaining actually read the article. I learned some things I didn't know: that the rise in heroin use is due in part to curious young people, some who mistakeningly think heroin isn't addictive if it is not injected. (Before you say, "How dumb can they be?" -- those statistics confirm a story I heard recently of a well-dressed and otherwise intelligent young woman who was admitted to a local hospital for an unrelated procedure. The staff treating her was stunned to learn that she was a full-blown heroin addict.)

In addition to Easthouse, whose job description is actually editor/staff writer, we recently welcomed staff writer Geoff Fein. Both have worked for daily and weekly newspapers in other states and bring a fresh perspective to some old stories.

One example is the wonderful piece, "Planning, McKinleyville style," in our Sept. 12 edition by Geoff. I admit I was skeptical when he proposed the story (I still sit in on editorial meetings). That McKinleyville was updating its general plan is pretty old news. But the story -- that it has taken 13 years and $350,000 and it's still not finished -- was absolutely fresh and right on. I remember going to a few of those citizens' advisory committee meetings six or eight years ago. Who would ever have the dedication -- the doggedness -- to stay involved with such a process?

This week Keith and Geoff teamed up to take a look at the Eureka/PALCO Marsh. Again my reaction was a little -- ho-hum, what's new? And I was wrong. This report is a very good piece of journalism.

Both these topics, by the way, should be addressed by those running for City Council in Eureka and county supervisor for the 5th District, respectively, in November.

The Journal's political coverage starts soon. Let us hear from you what other topics you'd like to see addressed.

 



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