As a Hood River News employee, I wear many hats. Well, you have to when — here it comes again! — you work on a writing staff of three and a half. My responsibilities are varied, and that’s what keeps the job interesting. That’s also what makes it impossible and frustrating, but eh, ultimately I get paid to read and write all day. We’ll just focus on that.
One of the bigger undertakings I have each week is updating the Happenings listing. That thing is a bear to organize, but I’ve been told that it’s one of the first pages people look at because it gives them a comprehensive look at what’s going on in the county.
I rely on those who submit their items to tell me when their events cease to be a thing. People tend to be great about giving me event info, and rather terrible about following up when it ends. At the beginning of each year, I try to reach out to everyone to make sure their events are still running and the listing information is current. I don’t always have time for that, though, and listings don’t care what time of year it is — if the info is outdated, it’s outdated. What I’m saying is this: Call me, email me, whatever, just let me know if your event is still happening and the info is still correct — and especially if it has ended. I’d greatly appreciate it.
For those considering submitting a Happenings item, know that it is separate from the Entertainment Update (A3 on Wednesdays), so I generally don’t put in music events. Theater productions do make it in, as do kids’ events, exercise and meditation classes and anything of community interest.
There is a limit, however, to what can be listed — mostly, it’s free activities and nonprofit events. If you have a $20 or more ticket price tag per person, that’s really an ad. If you’re a nonprofit, we’ll give you a $40 per person leeway, but again, anything more is an ad.
Some people are offended when we ask them to take out an ad. This always strikes me as ironic. You expect people to pay to come to your event, but don’t want to pay us to advertise your event?
But here’s the thing: Without community support, i.e. ad revenue, you wouldn’t have anywhere to put that listing in the first place. And to continue that service … yeah, we need continued support.
One last note: Happenings are available in print and online on our website, hoodrivernews.com
. You can also submit events via the website — and when you do, I will put them into the print edition, no extra phone call needed. It’s all a part of the service.
I also typeset the police, sheriff and marriage records — and I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I’ve had some close calls on the spell check front. Here’s the problem: Spell check doesn’t catch syntactical errors. So I could have something really wrong and spell check is all like, Looks good to me!
Examples are Hodo River (what even is that word?) and “mail” instead of “male.” I’ve got copy editing geniuses LisaAnn Kawachi and Emily Fitzgerald looking out for me, though, and they do a great job of catching these typos. And laughing at my expense.
I’ve typed, “Sheriff’s office responded to a non-injury traffic rash” (more than once) and “An anonymous president turned in a bike to the police department.” I’ve also had a “male drier” pulled over for traffic violations (I mean, at least I got the “male” part right).
Thankfully, these errors did not make it into print and the hilarity ended with some light newsroom ribbing. It’s much funnier to catch a typo on a proof than it is in the printed edition of the newspaper. When we see them glaring at us and there’s no longer anything we can do about it, that’s just depressing.
Another responsibility of mine is babysitting pages as they go through production. I’m not sure how else to describe it. It’s my least favorite part because it involves a lot of crying. Um, on my part, obviously.
The finished newspaper you are reading right this very second is made up of a lot of individual parts — stories, of course, but also photos and cutlines, the jump headers, the advertisements and even the jumplines (“See STORY, page A5”) are all different pieces to the puzzle. And part of what I do — what we all do — is make sure none of them wander off.
They do, of course. It’s amazing how finite, non-animated items can move around like they do. You see an error, you change it, the program updates and you realize that none of your changes took because the server isn’t syncing, so you have to start over again (and again, and again, as necessary). Or that the ad you thought was 2x5 is really 3x7 and now you need to shave off 10 lines from your story. Or that the story you were sure would fit that 2x10 space didn’t even get you halfway there and now you need to find more content.
To continue the babysitting metaphor, imagine trying to sort out just one page/baby with its many pieces — plus making sure you’re not reporting on male driers and anonymous presidents. Now, imagine a 10-page paper and each of those 10 babies screaming from the playpen, refusing to just take a nap already. All this while you (try to) write a story slated for the next edition and answer the phone.
There’s a lot of multitasking going on is what I’m saying.
You get used to it. But still, when the inevitable mistakes slip through, it is a bit crushing. Readers take us to task for those mistakes. But honestly, we beat ourselves up whether we’re publicly shamed for those errors on Facebook or not. We want our baby to be as perfect and presentable as possible.
I’ve written about my compiling of Yesteryears many times because it’s one of the more fun undertakings on my plate. I have my favorite decades — my family moved here in 1981, so the ‘80s are filled with classmates and people I know. I especially get a kick out of seeing high school sports photos of my husband, Eric. That’s just good Snapchat fodder for the entire family. And since Abby, my oldest, was born in 1999, I’ve had the pleasure of finding her birth announcement in the archive book. I was tempted, but it did not make my final writeup.
I’m sure her grandmothers noticed.
I also enjoy the earlier decades — the 1910s, the 1920s. Styles are so different that it’s almost jarring. Single sentences span entire paragraphs! Front page stories detail everything from council and club meetings to practical jokes to tales of kittens sleeping on chicken eggs! Classified ads advertise houses on acres of property for less money than you’d pay for a car today!
It’s a fascinating look at our county’s history. And I’ve learned a lot about why streets are named what they are, the founding pioneers and what downtown buildings used to hold, which I feel gives me a better understanding of this place we call home — helpful for a small-town reporter who wears a lot of hats.