Openness – we’re all for it. We like that in the news business. Open government. Open conversations. Stores open on holidays.
The last, OK, is just a personal preference, one greatly appreciated on Christmas this year as I headed to work. We’re open – we’re always open – and on the way I was able to stop at Koreana Plaza to buy some international treats for the dedicated folks who staff the holiday shifts in The Bee newsroom. Stephen Magagnini had written our front-page story that day about the Rancho Cordova store, open in its approach to marketing to its diverse community, and open for shopping when most everything else is closed. Busy it was.
Busy, the newsroom wasn’t. News slows over the holidays. This is a good thing. If all is right in the world, if we have peace and good will for Christmas, if we have a bubbly welcome to the new year, news can take a holiday even though we don’t.
I’m not complaining. The holiday usually slides by with a small crew who show up in the newsroom in bright spirits to write stories about the weather, or produce sports pages while waiting for the slate of NBA games to wrap up.
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We’ve had exceptions. On Christmas Eve 2008, a house in Rancho Cordova blew up. I’m sure our police reporter Kim Minugh remembers. She worked that night. And was here New Year’s Day this year. And our environmental reporter, Matt Weiser, I’m sure remembers. He covered it Christmas Day. And he was here on Christmas this year.
On New Year’s Eve 2012, a shooting left two people dead and extinguished festivities in Old Sacramento. The reports came in just after I had joked with reporter Cathy Locke and page designer Berney Finley – who over the years has dreaded my inability to deliver stories in anything close to the early holiday deadlines. I had said, simply, please, let’s have a quiet evening. I’m sure they remember. As do reporters Ryan Lillis, Denny Walsh and Bill Lindelof, and photographers José Villegas, Hector Amezcua and Randy Pench, who followed the story a year ago.
Of course we recognize our lot pales in comparison to the plight of those we cover. News erupts, we cover it.
Usually, it’s quiet. As a reporter in Baltimore at the now-defunct News American one year, I was asked to cover anything that was open on Christmas. Up the street, the infamous Block still jingled-jangled with strippers, so I interviewed the sad souls there. No, that’s not the reason the paper is no longer with us. Yes, my editor wasn’t too pleased with my take on holiday spirit. But he was open.
As were local editors Janet Vitt, Anthony Sorci, A1 designer Robert Casey and wire editor Don Sweeney, and business columnist Cathie Anderson and Capitol Bureau reporter Jeremy White, photo editor Lezlie Sterling and a host of others (I’d love to name them all) who cheerfully worked Christmas here, who sampled some of the food from Koreana, who worked hard to provide news for all, who helped make the holidays joyous and pleasant for me, who make me look forward to 2014, and who smiled, yes, openly.