Journalism-wise, things are looking up here

Things are looking up here when it comes to journalism:

*A plan is in the works to hire a new editor at The Union. Though some people complain she is from outside the area without much local knowledge, I’m just glad to see a paper that sees the value of having an editor and a publisher. Combining the two roles doesn’t work. Never has, never will.

*Dixie Redfern’s blog has an important item about the future of investigative news, from Poynter.org. It talks about the value of nonprofit journalism, which has been raised by readers of this blog.

*A former editor of The Union, Pat Butler, is launching a new newspaper, the Nevada City Advocate, on Friday. It will provide new competition.

*NC Voices, run by Nevada City resident Anna Haynes, is cementing itself as a “go to” aggregation site for local content, also providing more choice.

Whether you agree or disagree with any of these people is irrelevant. All of these developments are a step forward for raising the bar of journalism in a small rural community.

How will Emgold dispose of mine waste now?

Emgold Mining Corp. has said it plans to renew a licensing deal with Ceramext to make ceramic tiles from the mine waste at the Idaho-Maryland mine if the deal wins approval.

But Emgold’s Web site has now removed all mention of Ceramext or the Golden Bear tile works. The site used to provide a lengthy description of the process.

The tile works was labeled a “green business” and was supposed to create new jobs.

It also was meant to be a persuasive solution for getting rid of the mine waste. Now that strategy is no longer being discussed on the Web site.

Emgold is expected to provide more information to the city later this summer about the mine operations.

There’s been a lot of uncertainty about the mine lately, a reminder of the danger of supporting such a complex project so early in the process.

New “outsourcing” deal of The Union’s parent

Reader comments often provide the best insights on blogs – in this case getting to the bottom of a new “outsourcing” policy at The Union’s parent Swift Communicatons.

A possible result: replacing some duties at the community papers in Grass Valley and elsewhere (a longtime finance job and an IT job at The Union have disappeared from The Union’s masthead, for example) with new jobs in centralized locations such as Carson City.

To be sure, The Union is creating new local jobs too – such as posting an opening for a sales position and one for a senior accountant.

But the outsourcing of some administrative functions away from Grass Valley has not gone unnoticed by readers.

“Last week, I sent in my subscription renewal to The Union,” the reader wrote. “The envelope provided used to read the Union’s address in Grass Valley. It is now being sent to an address in Carson City, Nevada. No doubt a Swift Communications collection point.”

He was not pleased, concluding: “Buy locally, subscribe to The Union and send your money to Nevada.” He was referring to the “buy local, shop local” mantra being preached throughout our community.

He’s onto something:

Swift’s Web site has now posted two openings for a group called Swift Financial Services, described as a “skilled centralized finance group” located in Carson City, Nevada.

*One is for an “Advertising Accounting Specialist I” to provide “accurate and efficient entry of advertising payments,” among other duties.

*The other is for a “Circulation Accounting Specialist I” to provide “accurate and efficient entry of “subscriber, dealer and miscellaneous payments, balancing payment entry, submitting checks for deposit utilizing the desktop deposit software.”

Outsourcing is not new. But this is a reminder how community newspaper chains are also turning to the practice to cut costs and build efficiencies.

No outsourcing deals comes without some objections, and judging from this reader’s response, Swift’s is no exception.

My two-cent’s worth would be to provide some transparency and *explain to subscribers what’s going on.* Many others will no doubt raise similar concerns.

This is a sensitive topic among the management, though: Mentioning Swift in a column or article requires management approval, I was told once, when I innocently enough mentioned the newsroom won an award from Swift for its Sunday Express, along with some others.

Can McClintock unite or divide?

Our local partisan political bloggers (Russ Steele and George Rebane) are almost giddy, because Congressman Tom McClintock visited George’s home for a gathering of like-minded conservative people.

The discussion was predictible: criticizing Obama and his policies.

It got me thinking again whether Congressman McClintock will adequately represent our district.

On the plus side, Tom is more engaged with our community than John Doolittle. I also appreciate Tom’s institutional knowledge of government and politics more than his opponent Charlie Brown.

But Tom is an idealogue more than a pragmatist. I don’t see that changing much, and it’s a big downside.

Instead of going to George’s house, he should be going to the home or homes of all the registered Republicans and independents in our area who voted for Obama, and he should listen deeply and humbly to their concerns.

Obama and Brown carried Nevada County, and the conservatives need to be thinking more deeply about why that happened. They need to be reaching out to people who are frustrated ex-GOPers, not die-hards.

A big reason stemmed from the failures of the Bush administration after eight years – in economic, foreign and regulatory policy.

It must be embarassing for people such as Tom to lose that kind of support in such a conservative community, and he should be working hard to change that.

As an idealogue, Tom’s track record for helping to bring about needed reform in California also is questionable.

Tom served in the California legislature while the state fell into the abyss. His “just say no” power of persuasion is comparable to that of Sam Aanestad, but it didn’t work.

When you’re in a political minority, you need to pick a pragmatic issue and get it across the goal line – not speak out in broad ideological platitudes.

Though I don’t relish the term, Tom really is a “carpetbagger” politican who came to our district, largely because he stood the best chance of getting elected.

As I’ve written before, Placer County is the “new” Orange County, much of it stemming from “white flight” from Southern California and elsewhere.

But Placer and neighboring Nevada County aren’t big enough to spark a state-wide revolution, as Orange County was in the Reagan era.

So instead, you just wind up with like-minded people gathering together and not addressing the real elephant in the corner – literally and figuratively.

Now more than ever, our county has an opportunity to land some significant stimulus funding.

I don’t always agree with the policies. But let’s face it, we are “grant-land” around here, because we have failed to diversify our economy.

So we ought to be on the lookout for government funding that can stimulate our economy and save the ideology and history lessons for another day. Like it or not, nowadays you have to be more of an opportunist.

Our conservative leaders such as Tom also have to be thinking harder about the art of compromise and learning from the outcome of the last election.

NC Voices keeps growing

I took some heat when I said last month that the Web site NC Voices is the best aggregation site, or local portal, for news and information.

Some people tried to make it a political issue or get personal. No, NC Voices is not about politics. It’s about building a comprehensive, grassroots, aggregation site with, well, NC Voices.

And, lo and behold, the list just keeps growing, often at the user’s request: The Union’s bloggers, The Union’s op ed pages, The Auburn Journal, NC Mall, NCTV, NCTweets, a list of “public servants,” such as Aaron Klein and more.

NC voices has become the area’s leading local portal and aggregation site. No commercials — just news, information and opinions. All local content.

I was a Web pioneer in the ’90s, helping to launch CNET, a successful startup that wound up getting sold to CBS. So I can tell you with some level of expertise: NC Voices is a classic example of how the Web is supposed to work, helping to redefine communications and breaking down the walls of monopoly/oligopoly distribution.

Steve Jobs: “Stay hungry, stay foolish”

A friend on Facebook reminded me of this 2005 commencement speech by Steve Jobs at Stanford. This blog has shared thoughts about Jobs, whom I’ve encountered over the years. I am glad that the Apple co-founder and chairman is still around, with his liver transplant.

Leaders and innovators always draw controversy, but there just aren’t enough of them.

The text is here.

Free Pops Concert in NC’s Pioneer Park today

cheryl2The custom of free public concerts dates back to the gold-rush era, and the Nevada County Concert Band carries on the tradition in style.

The concerts are a highlight of what makes our county so unique and livable. Today’s concert starts at 5 p.m. in Pioneer Park. I’m excited to hear “Bugler’s Holiday” by Leroy Anderson. It’s one of my all time favorites.

Here’s the program:

The January February March, Don Gillis

My Grandfather’s Clock, Arthur Amsden

Night and Day Cole, Porter/Paul Yoder

Music of the Night, Andrew Lloyd Webber/Calvin Custer
from “Phantom of the Opera” with tuba soloist Mark Meeker

When I’m Sixty-Four, McCartney & Lennon/Ramon Ricker
featuring the saxophone section

Dave Brubeck: It’s About Time* Fred Rogers/Mike Tomaro
MEDLEY: Take Five • Unsquare Dance • Blue Rondo a la Turk

*** INTERMISSION ***

A Night on Bald Mountain, M. Moussorgsky/Maurice Gardner

Bugler’s Holiday, Leroy Anderson
with trumpet trio John Smiley, Steve Fernald, and Karin Hofland

As Time Goes By, Herman Hupfeld/Warren Barker

Porgy and Bess, George Gershwin/Russell Bennett
MEDLEY: Summertime • A Woman Is a Sometime Thing •
I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’ • Bess You Is My Woman • It Ain’t Necessarily So •
Picnic Parade • Oh Lawd, I’m on my Way

1915 March B.C. Bridges/Cheryl Woldseth
with a guest conductor

*** ENCORE ***

A Symphony of Sit-Coms arr. Paul Jennings
MEDLEY: Woody Woodpecker • The Dick Van Dyke Show Theme • Mister Ed •
Leave It to Beaver • Hogan’s Heroes March • The Ballad of Jed Clampett •
Bewitched • The Munsters • Green Acres • I Love Lucy