There comes a time in a person’s life when a very difficult decision will be made, especially when it involves a passion that has been part of that individual’s life for many years.
For the better part of my life, I have been involved with one or more facets of journalism. From humble beginnings as a teenage radio announcer, newscaster and sportscaster during both my high school and college years in Reno to delivering the weekend news on Channel 4 in the mid-1970s to covering military news events in the United States and on four continents for the National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve, I have enjoyed the best of many worlds.
Yet, it was that passion of being a community journalist that piqued my interest in the mid-to-late 1970s and kept me challenged over a span of five decades, capping with my current position as editor of the Lahontan Valley News. I had envisioned my professional life in television or radio, but as fate would have it, nether materialized. Elko County School District hired me as an English/journalism teacher, and my former wife was hired as editor of the Wells Progress. Over the next seven years, I provided sports stories, covered the occasional meeting or wrote personality profiles on the people who called Wells home.
Community journalism hooked me, and the desire to report on local — not national — events kept my interest for almost 40 years. The national news scene is too uncivil, and no amount of money could entice me to that level.
Almost two years ago, I toyed with the idea of retirement from the daily grind of the 70-hour, six-day-a-week routine of putting newspaper and online stories together for the LVN, but I decided to stay because of a new staff and new general manager for the Sierra Nevada Media Group. After much soul searching and talking with family and friends, I feel now is the right time to retire as editor for the LVN with my last day of Aug. 1.
Although that is my official retirement date, I’ll be assisting the LVN staff with several stories and events in August to wrap up my stay.
Since I talked to my general manager in May about retiring, my emotions have followed a roller coaster of joys and sorrows and John Boehner moments with Kleenex. During the past nine years, the LVN and its reporters have provided good journalism, great news stories and sound sports coverage of Greenwave teams and their championships.
Since 2008, the LVN has been recognized for its news and sports coverage and has garnered more than 100 awards from state, regional, national and international organizations. Two of our most memorable events that we covered from beginning to end were the Amtrak crash with an ore-hauler and two embeds with the Nevada troops in Afghanistan in November 2011 and November 2012.
This community loves its high-school sports, and with Fallon’s move to the 3A, the Greenwave has won state championships, each one just as important as the previous. While people have asked me why the LVN covers the Greenwave so much, I tell them high-school sports is the center of the heart for many small communities and becomes that pulsating pride for current and former residents.
The sorrows have been plenty, especially when they result in a loss of life of people who made Fallon their home. Last year was a very difficult, emotional year in writing articles on old friends who passed away: Cecil Quinley, a World War II pilot and hero; Anne Pershing, LVN’s former editor who hired me 30 years ago; high-school educators Ed Arciniega and Lou Buckmaster; businessman Bob Kent; and two other young adults — Jensen McDonald and Krysten Waalk — whose lives were taken too soon from us.
I am not totally stepping away from writing. During the past decade, I have grown increasingly close to many veterans in our state and have written articles about their service to our nation and for many, their service during times of war. Unfortunately, many of our World War II vets have died, but I have been able to interview and put stories together explaining their roles in defending the nation. Not too long ago at an event in Reno featuring four holocaust survivors and a liberator, a former U.S. Army sergeant, I received another glimpse of war’s atrocities.
I interviewed Robert McHaney, a 93-year-old veteran of World War II who told of his soldiers liberating one of the concentration camps. His memory was crystal clear, and his ruggedness and square jaw reminded me of Clint Eastwood. I wrote about his time in Europe in April 1945. Sadly, this heroic vet passed away in June.
I am taking a part-time position to edit a new veterans/military magazine for Northern Nevada that will profile individuals, events, service organizations and military news. Nothing like it is printed in Northern Nevada, which has grown with its number of veterans.
I would like to say thank you to this community for its support for the past 30 years and for being the heart and soul of community journalism of which I referenced in a story last week. A journalist also records the first chapter of history, and I have recorded in print so much about this area and its people. While I look forward to a new challenge, my own heart and soul will be with the many readers who allowed me to come into their homes for 30 years and later on their computers.
Steve Ranson is the editor of the LVN. During his time as editor, he also served as president of the Nevada Press Association and is the current president of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.