Hamilton: A few words of thanks to our friends | TheUnion.com

Hamilton: A few words of thanks to our friends

The Union photo/John Hart
John R. Hart | The Union

Through years of working at a community newspaper, we often say we get by with a little help from our friends.

And that’s certainly the case here at The Union.

Not only do we regularly receive news tips from readers and members of our community, but often also actual news content. Over the past decade, the amount of reader-submitted stories and photographs published by The Union has grown to the point that on many days it’s quite a task to squeeze in news stories originating beyond the county’s borders.

That’s a good problem to have and a good sign of both the vibrancy of this community and the engagement of those who live here.

… having so much local news and information is a good problem to have. So please, friends, do keep it coming.

Earlier this week, we had a few news events where our coverage was assisted by “citizen journalists” who sought to share their perspective from the lens of their camera with our readers, providing everyone with more robust coverage.

Sunday night’s fire near Pioneer Park in Nevada City saw several residents shooting the scene, with helicopters and air tankers flying overhead to knock down the flames and allow firefighters on the ground to quickly contain what could have easily have been a catastrophe without such a fast response. Local photographer John Daly — who, following a rain storm (remember those?) a couple of years ago, captured one of the most fantastic photos I’ve seen on the front page of The Union — was among those capturing the efforts of our firefighters Sunday. He emailed over several stunning shots that we posted at TheUnion.com as part of our coverage, along with photos from The Union Photographer John Hart and Staff Writer Keri Brenner.

That same day another local resident, Hamilton Bryan — no relation, of course — submitted a photo of a helicopter flying out a large amount of marijuana from what the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office described as a “cartel grow” in the Yuba River canyon. That photo ran alongside our report on the seizure of 10 gardens that included the extraction of 1,546 marijuana plants.

And checking the Monday morning voicemail offered us another front-page photo opportunity, which Staff Writer Dave Brooksher fulfilled for Tuesday’s edition with a great silhouetted shot of a tree feller hard at work, removing some troubling trees that threatened damage to property near the Grass Valley Library.

We take heart in the fact that our community is so connected with its newspaper. It’s something we’ve been celebrating well before The Union’s 150th anniversary in 2014, largely by publishing the pieces submitted to us from those who live, work and play here. The aforementioned examples aren’t the exception, but the norm. On any given day, you’ll find local residents writing in our news, opinion, features and sports pages. Whether with word of an upcoming fundraiser in page two’s TownTalk, a Prospector story by the likes of a Tom Durkin, a Monday Money column by a Machen MacDonald or some tips from the tee by golf pro John Renslow, it’s our community members who help fill these pages with relevant news and information.

Our reader participation is perhaps most prominent, however, on our Ideas & Opinions pages, where each day you’ll find local residents sharing their thoughts on issues of community interest. With our recent expansion of The Union’s Editorial Board, several of its members will be writing columns each month to share their own individual opinions on local issues, in addition to helping to construct The Union’s “Our View” editorial and serving as a sounding board on editorial decisions made by the paper.

One change we’ve made, based on the board’s feedback, is to return the word limit on “Letters to the Editor” to 200 words. Earlier this year, after writers sought more space to share their thoughts on the June primary election, we stretched the limit to 300 words. The result has been fewer letters published each day, which — considering our reader surveys show letters among our most popular features — was not a good thing.

Of course, if writers would like to expand on a topic they can do so in an “Other Voices” op-ed, which has a limit of 750 words. Do realize, though, that due to the longer length, it typically takes longer for Other Voices to be published than letters to the editor. And if you’re looking for a quick turnaround, readers can always comment directly on stories and opinion pieces at TheUnion.com or share their thoughts at Facebook.com/TheUnionDotCom, from which we often publish in our “Feedback” feature in the print edition of Saturday’s Ideas & opinion pages.

While we’re on the topic of reader-submitted material, if you have made a submission to the paper — either a news item (news@theunion.com) or an opinion piece (letters@theunion.com) — and have not heard back from us after three days, please do follow up with us. Considering the vast amount of news and information being submitted to the paper these days, an occasional omission or delay might be due more to human oversight or technical glitch rather than a rejection of what you took the time to share with us and our readers.

As I said earlier, having so much local news and information is a good problem to have.

So please, friends, do keep it coming.

Brian Hamilton is editor at The Union. His column is published Wednesdays. Email him at bhamilton@theunion.com or call 530-477-4249.

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