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August 28, 2014
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Hemig: What does a publisher do?

Tuesday afternoon of this very week I found myself lying horizontal with a Grass Valley woman holding a blade to my throat. Literally.

I could feel the cold steel pressed to my neck, and I thought, “Just another day for the Publisher of the local paper.”

Each day does bring new challenges. And new possibilities of attack from opinionated folks in our community.

But I’ll tell you a secret. Being a publisher isn’t all that bad.

Sure I take a lot of arrows, get most of the complaints about one story or another and seem to have a bullseye on my back from the local bloggers.

Overall, though, I have been warmly welcomed and even asked to speak at many engagements around town. I’m usually asked to tell a little about myself and the newspaper.

The question, “What does a publisher do?” usually comes up in these meetings. When it does, I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t bring it up myself.

People ask, “Does a publisher report to the editor?” Or, “Is the publisher the owner?” I can see why people would ask that, as it is rarely clear and different newspapers have different ways of doing things.

The Union is like most average newspapers. The publisher is responsible for the entire operation, including the editorial, advertising, circulation, classified, finance and production departments. That means I’m responsible for the entire staff and all of their publishing efforts. I report to the president of the company.

To put my job in simple terms, I work to keep the employees happy and the community happy, and, of course, to hit our bottom line in order to maintain a healthy fiscal direction moving forward.

What that really means is I get all the questions and problems nobody else can answer. I’ll get concerns or complaints from employees as well as readers and advertisers.

But before anybody starts feeling sorry for your dear old publisher, let me explain this week’s situation.

Recently I got a call from a local business that has expanded its operation. One of The Union’s reporters was going to go visit, then write a story about the expansion. Somehow the communication wires got crossed, and the day of the interview was missed. That left the business owner wondering if The Union truly cared about their story.

The concerned business reached out to me and asked if this was a normal routine for the newspaper.

Since the community’s happiness toward the paper is one of my responsibilities, I decided to drive over and apologize for the miscommunication. While I was there, I took a look at their business.

Cedar Ridge Salon on Colfax Highway isn’t the kind of business I would say I normally frequent. Honestly, I’m a no-frills haircut kind of guy.

I found Cedar Ridge Salon to be an upbeat and comfortable place. Owner Michella Lockwood explained they offer hair styling, cuts, coloring and barber services, including hot towel treatments and straight razor shaves, as well as body waxing, massages and even manicures and pedicures.

The friendly staff at Cedar Ridge Salon happily accepted my apologies and all acknowledged the simple miscommunication.

I concluded my visit and started to leave. Next thing I knew, I was in the chair with grooming ace Glenda Nasralia working me over.

I got the best hair cut of my life. Seriously. Yeah, normally I don’t care about a hair cut. But Glenda’s work opened my eyes. My wife has told me for years to “get a good hair cut.” I finally got one.

Then she proceeded to apply the blade to my neck — the straight razor shave.

That’s where the Tuesday story picks back up. The first straight razor shave of my life. What a relaxing experience. Something surreal about being at ease with a sharp object pressed to your throat. And not one nick. Oddly enough, I highly recommend it. After the treatment, I looked and felt like a new man.

After my pampering, I was chatting with Michella when a woman walked in and mentioned the story about the salon that ran in The Union. I was not only glad to see we followed through on the story, but people in our community read the paper and responded to a local business. What timing. And I didn’t even pay her!

Since I am a cup-is-half-full kind of guy, I believe every problem creates an opportunity for a solution. I enjoy the possibilities.

Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of difficultly lies opportunity.”

So next time you see an upset comment from a reader, just remember it might lead to something new and interesting. Feel free to share my secret — I’m having fun meeting people and enjoying the possibilities in our community.

Jim Hemig is publisher at The Union. Contact him via email at or at 530-477-4299.

Tuesday afternoon of this very week I found myself lying horizontal with a Grass Valley woman holding a blade to my throat. Literally.

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The Union Updated Sep 3, 2014 06:32PM Published Aug 29, 2014 04:57PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.