Cheers to CN&R Staff Writer Ken Smith and all the other dedicated journalists

One of the traditions here at the corner of Second and Flume streets is the creation of a personalized CN&R-like framed cover for each employee who stays with the company for half a decade. I got my five-year plaque when I returned from maternity leave back in 2012.

Pictured are photos of several of my favorite things: my husband and newborn son, my late beloved German shepherd, Boaz, and even singer/songwriter Ryan Adams. The dominant art is a photo of me riding a horse with the accompanying text: “Melissa Daugherty: News Wrangler. With a nose for news, she’s been ridin’ the dusty North Valley trails for five years, trackin’ down every lead and sniffing out the scoops for the Chico News & Review.”

Those words were secretly crafted by my comrades in the editorial department, as is tradition. They passed them along to PhotoShop wizard Tina Flynn, CN&R’s art director and longest-serving employee. She’s been here for more than 35 years, which makes the rest of us seem like newbies. That includes me, although I just hit the 10-year mark at CN&R. Just about four of those have been in the editor’s post. Time flies.

Among the other relative newcomers is Staff Writer Ken Smith, who got his five-year plaque last week. It’s a masterpiece. Ken is a Jack-of-all-trades reporter, who’s written everything from art reviews to spot news stories. As you can see, his plaque is as eclectic as his story assignments and the man himself or, as it’s put on that personalized cover, “Ken Smith: Renaissance Man. Five years as the CN&R’s muckrakin’ punk-rock warrior-poet/bon vivant.”

Ken was a freelance contributor for a few years prior to joining our staff and has logged more than 500 bylines in these pages, including a cover story that earned a coveted statewide award for best writing. He’s the last person in the editorial department to receive a five-year plaque, which means I work with some seriously dedicated journalists. Cheers to all of them and to the other fine folks who work in this demanding, wonderful profession.