Editorial: Covering the news can be busy work, but it’s rarely boring

Sometimes covering the news is just … fun.

I’ve been involved in journalism for nigh onto 40 years now, pretty much non-stop if you count the years I’ve spent teaching it.

It never gets boring.

Of course, when you’re running a couple of local newspapers, there’s never a lack of things to do.

But I remember, when my wife and I purchased The New Era in Sweet Home from Alex and Debbie Paul back in 2005, how Alex told me “you’ll never run out of things to cover.”

He was talking about Sweet Home, which is substantially smaller than Lebanon, but he was right. As we put these newspapers together, we are constantly trying to figure out how to cover everything.

That’s particularly true here in Lebanon, where there is so much going on. But it’s always intersting.

I was thinking about how much fun journalism can be as I stood on Main Street early last month, shooting photos of the Strawberry Grand Parade.

It is an impressive event for a town of this size. I’m originally from Grants Pass, which is twice the size of Lebanon and has a pretty substantial early summer festival called the Boatnik. But really, other than the jetboat races on the Rogue River, our Strawberry Festival is pretty comparable, especially the parade.

How many towns of (roughly) 17,000 people can put on a two-hour-plus parade that, though admittedly long, is a quality event from start to finish? I was standing there, legs getting tired, thinking that it would be pretty hard to cut any of the entries out because they were all good.

And I heard the same thing from at least three or four other people who, unprompted, mentioned how good it was this year.

A lot of us journalists are kind of introvert-types a lot of the time, but that doesn’t mean we’re not paying attention. We’re always looking for interesting stories and sometimes those fall in our laps.

Last week reporter Sarah Brown noticed some odd-looking vehicles parked around the downtown area. She knew about the Gambler 500 rally event, which has mushroomed in popularity since it started a few years ago, and she suddenly realized that this was what she was looking at.

She hopped out of her car and asked some questions and, next thing you know, she had a good story (see page 1). That’s the way it happens, sometimes.

We can’t be everywhere, though, and that’s where readers come in. Something’s happened in your life that you think is significant? Call us at the number in the box across the page. Seriously, stories usually don’t fall in our laps. Somebody tells us about them.

Sadly, we can’t cover everything, as I – if anybody – is painfully aware. We’re definitely human.

Recently, I got a call from a reader who asked if I knew about the new “hay law.”

Uh, I couldn’t say I did.

She proceeded to tell me that someone she knew had gotten pulled over for hauling too much hay – without a permit.

Yes, there’s now a law, ORS 164.815, passed last year, which requires us to have a permit if we haul more than 20 bales of hay on a public highway.

Why you’re not reading about that in our news section is a long, sad (for me), story, complicated by many other stories we’ve been working on, but suffice to say, I wasn’t the only person who’s supposed to know what’s going on who didn’t know about this law.

Apparently, it slipped through pretty much under the radar.

That’s another story. But that’s why we like phone calls.