Ode to Bob

Setting the record straight on my first week as editor

Most readers probably know my predecessor as Robert Speer, but around the CN&R’s Second and Flume streets office, he’s Bob. My colleagues and I, along with many former staff members—some going back to the beginning of the newspaper’s history in the late ’70s—worked to send Bob off proper at a recent retirement party.

It was nice to see the camaraderie among those former staffers. They seemed to pick up where they left off 15, 20, 30 years ago or more. And it was great to hear so many of them praise Bob for his indelible mark on the newspaper and his service to community journalism.

But not everyone has been as appreciative of his work. A few people have taken some cheap shots since he announced his retirement. I know Bob, so I know he’s not sweating it. I guess you grow several extra layers of epidermis after being a newspaperman for close to 40 years. I’ve built up a couple of them myself. Now that I’m editor, I suppose my skin will only get thicker.

But on the week I head into my new post, I want to set the record straight on Bob. I’ve been a reporter at every (legitimate) Chico newspaper over the past 12 years, and nowhere else have I encountered the level of hands-on, savvy editing employed by Robert Speer. He’s a pro, and there are many reporters and editors, myself included, whose skills have grown immeasurably under his day-to-day tutelage.

Bob cleaned out the last of his things from his office in the middle of the day last Friday (May 24) and, very nonchalantly, said goodbye to his staff. After the buildup over the past couple of months, it was fairly anticlimactic. I guess I’d envisioned us all drinking a couple of beers at the end of the workday, as we do on occasion, and hearing some sage piece of advice that would stick with me. Instead, I went about my tasks, which included editing Christine G.K. LaPado-Breglia’s excellent cover story about the controversy surrounding the Chico Certified Farmers’ Market.

Speaking of LaPado-Breglia, as you’ll see on the Contents Page, she’s been promoted to associate editor. She’s attached to the environmental section, Greenways, so she’s still in charge of it. Among her many new duties is proofreading everything else in the paper. There are, of course, other changes happening around these parts. I’ll write about those changes as they go down.

In the meantime, my hope is for a smooth transition. In the next few weeks, I’ll literally be heading into the chief’s seat, moving into the second-floor office in our building at the corner of Second and Flume streets. Hence the name of this column.

This is my first-ever column in the CN&R. I wrote a single column back in college while I was a news reporter. I’ve always been more comfortable writing about other people, though, and don’t plan on baring my soul here. Don’t worry. But you are likely to get to know me better through this space. And it’s a two-way street. So, drop me a line.