Trusty locals

Kudos to the Chico E-R for being a Pulitzer finalist, and other journalism happenings

A few weeks after the Camp Fire ignited, yours truly wrote about the influx of parachute reporters and groused about how they’d eventually bail from covering the disaster. That would leave the reporting largely to local journalists.

Sure, there are occasional flyovers from regional and national newspaper, TV and radio folk, but the aftermath primarily is in the hands of Chico’s trusty newspapers, this one and the Enterprise-Record (including the Paradise Post insert).

Speaking of the latter, someone over at its operations at East Park Avenue and MLK Parkway submitted a package of the Chico E-R’s early Camp Fire reporting for consideration for a Pulitzer Prize—the nation’s premier journalism contest named in honor of Joseph Pulitzer, the late newspaper publisher and founder of the Columbia School of Journalism. It was entered in the category of Local Reporting, but the Pulitzer jury moved it to a more appropriate one, Breaking News.

The E-R’s excellent efforts in the initial weeks were buoyed by reports and photos by its big Bay Area sister papers. The submission didn’t win, but it was one of the finalists, which is pretty great for Chico’s scrappy little daily. All of the stories—dated between the day the Camp Fire started, Nov. 8, and Dec. 18—can be found at (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette won for its reporting on the mass shooting at the city’s Tree of Life synagogue.)

The entries were written during the tenure of former Chico E-R Editor David Little, who left the paper at the end of the year. He’s since been working part-time in a public relations role for the North Valley Community Foundation, the Chico nonprofit distributing tens of millions of dollars of charitable donations for short- and long-term disaster relief.

That sounds like a fulfilling gig following his resignation from the newspaper, where he’d sat in the chief’s seat for just under 20 years. However, I was happy to hear this week that Little’s back in the journalism realm: He’s now serving as the adviser to Chico State’s student newspaper, The Orion.

As I’ve written before, I have a soft spot for The Orion and the E-R, where, in that order, I cut my teeth. But I have a greater affection for the CN&R, obviously, and I’m more aware at this time than ever before of its function in Chico and the surrounding communities to provide critical in-depth coverage of important issues, such as Meredith J. Cooper’s latest Camp Fire cover story in this issue. There are countless other examples that also set our work apart.

To wit, earlier this week, as I scanned the headlines, I came upon a national story by one of those aforementioned parachute reporters about the water situation on the Ridge; how residents are moving back there in spite of contamination throughout a water system that may take years to address. It’s a short version of a story first told in the pages of the CN&R three months ago—when nothing had been reported about that crisis and the agencies charged with public health had failed to issue warnings.

Our role in the community is indeed unique—complementary to the Chico E-R’s daily coverage—and Butte County is the beneficiary.