Taking stock of things to be thankful for in a tumultuous year

I love our annual Local Heroes Issue. It’s a bit of an escape from the rough and tumble of politics, along with the other heavy topics you may have read about in these pages over the past couple of weeks and months. This year, for those of us in the newsroom and likely also those reading these pages, the respite couldn’t have come at a better time.

We’ve featured six people who go above and beyond to better the lives of other members of our community. Had we the room, though, we could have written about many more. It’s not easy culling our list of do-gooders down to a handful, but we’ve done our best to present you with a well-rounded group.

There are a number of things I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving, and living in a place with so many people dedicated to volunteerism is one of them.

As a journalist, I’m also thankful to work at a community newspaper.

The other day, while watching the White House press corps’ cringe-worthy interactions with Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s passive-aggressive press secretary, I could see that being a reporter in the heart of darkness (aka Washington, D.C.) is a helluva lot more stress-inducing these days.

Case in point: Having to deal with Sanders, who would allow reporters to ask questions during a press briefing only after they stated what they were grateful for. Props to Cecilia Vega, whose byline I remember from her time as a San Francisco Chronicle reporter. During the aforementioned press conference, she shut down Sanders with this three-word response: “the First Amendment.”

Amen to that. I’m similarly grateful for that portion of the Constitution. Indeed, it’s what allows me and my colleagues—here in Chico and throughout the nation—to speak truth to power.

You may have heard about a jump in newspaper subscriptions following the general election. Count me among the spike. I purchased a digital subscription to The New York Times this year, along with delivery of its Sunday paper, to support the investigative reporting at one of the nation’s preeminent publications.

But those gains have taken place largely at the nation’s biggest newspapers. Community newspapers are struggling. Most of them are losing readers and revenues, leading to a further decline in the quality of their reporting.

That makes me thankful for the CN&R’s faithful readership—this newspaper is in the outlier position of having gained a modest amount of circulation over the past year. That’s a pretty big deal in 2017, even for the alternative weeklies, whose models rely not on paid subscribers but rather on a steady stream of advertising.

That means I’m thankful for the businesses who purchase ads in these pages, allowing us to continue our community watchdogging efforts. Over the holidays, I’d like to urge readers to help the CN&R continue our mission by supporting them and shopping locally (see Editorial, page 4).

Last but not least, I’m grateful for the folks who write letters to the editor and guest commentaries for this newspaper. By doing so, you’re helping to create a vibrant, smart and insightful section that oftentimes challenges the status quo. Your voices play an important role in the dialogue that shapes the community. So, thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving!