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Newsroom Journal: Life of a Small-Town Editor (Sept. 20-26)

by Brad FuquaWestern News
| September 23, 2009 12:00 AM

(Note: Newsroom Journal is a collection of various notes and observations through the eyes of Brad Fuqua, managing editor of the Western News in Libby, Mont. The journal is updated periodically as the week progresses.)

Sunday, Sept. 20

5:50 p.m. – Just finished an interview with Cindy Ostrem-Johnston of the Libby volleyball team. Sounds like the team is playing well this season. Last week, the Loggers pulled off a rare sweep in Whitefish – a place that's known as a tough venue. Over the weekend, LHS won a tournament in Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

6:10 p.m. – Removed a short web-only story on the grizzly bear relocation. One of our sources said a previous press release from another agency had incorrect information. So, we'll get the right info, write a story for the Wednesday edition and re-post another story online on Monday or Tuesday.

Monday, Sept. 21

8:58 a.m. – I don't expect to have time to post much stuff on here today. It's a press run day which makes my schedule insanely busy. I need to do one more interview for a biomass plant feasibility story and then write a whole lot of sports stuff from over the weekend.

8:20 p.m. – A mere 12 hours later, I'm now finished with the newspaper. The press run is tonight in Kalispell and then we pick up the newspapers tomorrow. I appreciated the bear photos that were made available to us from U.S. Fish & Wildlife because we were a little light on front page art this issue. Almost had a bad error in the events calendar … "Ass Wood" … but it was caught during proofing. Thank goodness for good help.

Tuesday, Sept. 22

12:19 p.m. – Just finished the website update and moved stories and photos in archives. I always like to keep a copy of all stories for future reference and all photos for possible use in some manner. Now, comes one of the most challenging days of the week. We go to press again tomorrow which means we start from scratch and need to work hard and fast on stories to fill another newspaper. I never have any problems filling inside pages but we do have challenges sometimes when it comes to page 1 material. And I'm picky about page 1 stuff. It'll work out … it always does.

7:45 p.m. – Out driving around town tonight looking for photos; went into a few neighborhoods where I had never been before. There are a lot of those around Libby – various pockets of homes. Didn't see much for photos and then it got too dark.

8:30 p.m. – Working on a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation story. I got an e-mail from a local member who gave me some background on the history. I had no idea that the organization was founded in Troy … I've done RMEF-related stories down in Arizona; the group was involved around the Grand Canyon. Very interesting stuff that I'm trying to put together in a story.

11:42 p.m. – Finished the RMEF story; did a lot of research tonight online – reading about the organization's beginnings. I found an old AP story from 1988 that covered that subject. Also found a couple of pages on RMEF's beginnings on Google books.

Wednesday, Sept. 23

8:29 a.m. – Well, it's another press run day and it'll be busy as usual. Our reporter will be covering Carol Rushin's visit to the City/County Health Board at 10 a.m. Rushin is the acting regional administrator. Original plans called for a visit from an EPA official at the national level but she was not able to work it out. The county commissioners actually won't be there today; they are out of town on other business. They put together a letter covering various issues that will be submitted to her.

9:24 a.m. – I received an e-mail this morning with a photo of 10 children who went to visit Giovanni Cano in Spokane. We published a story on Giovanni, who turned 11 years old yesterday, back in August. He was diagnosed with leukemia and is undergoing treatment in Spokane. The kids in the photo look like they're having fun and Giovanni has a big smile on his face.

6:19 p.m. – Finishing up the paper a little earlier than usual tonight. It's always strange when we get done early. But it helped that I didn't have too many distractions over the course of the day. Page 1 ended up with a story on the EPA extending the OU1-OU2 comment period by two months, a feature on the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, a story about legal services that will be available to northwestern Montana and a feature on the family resource centers that are now in the Libby schools. Also published a story about a car accident on Bull Lake Road that started when a car stopped in the road to look at a moose. I also published an editorial that a New West writer penned about "the other Libby" – and it's all good stuff about our town and region.