Jim Hemig: Strange bedfellows | TheUnion.com

Jim Hemig: Strange bedfellows

Jim Hemig Publisher The Union
John Hart/jhart@theunion.com | The Union

I’m a Ryan Golze fan. I’ll admit it.

But I had the difficult job of calling Ryan Tuesday and informing him that The Union had to cover the news over at Eskaton.

By “had to” I specifically meant The Union has an important responsibility to cover what’s happening in western Nevada County. The Union has to cover business and community news. That’s our job.

Ryan’s job is the executive director of Eskaton Grass Valley. In only six months he has made an impact in the community. I’ve seen Ryan at Rotary and at Chamber events. Eskaton even sponsored the Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce Christmas Breakfast & Board Installation, under Ryan’s direction.

Both Ryan and I appear to have a similar path. Provide for our customers and help the community. This week we are strange bedfellows for sure. We have our jobs to do, but find ourselves focused on the greater community good at the same time.

But it’s not only about business networking. Ryan is also involved with community support organizations. We met up at the recent Friendship Club “Power of the Purse” event at Miners Foundry and again at the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation’s “Martinis and a Movie” event. Eskaton provides cash sponsorship for both nonprofits. Eskaton, under Ryan’s leadership, supports these important human services programs in our community.

Ryan and I now run into each other all over town. We don’t have to put ourselves out there. We don’t have to support community events. But I think we have a similar goal — we want to support our businesses, our customers and our community. I believe we both feel we are all in this together. For us to succeed as individuals, as well as in business, we need the community to succeed.

Why else would he spend so much time helping the Chamber, other businesses and nonprofits?

This week I had to call Ryan and say one of The Union’s reporters is covering a class action lawsuit by homeowners against Eskaton.

Eskaton is important to our community. With our aging population, we need strong assisted-living establishments. Our economy needs to keep and encourage our aging family members to stay here in Nevada County with us. Eskaton is also well respected here. This organization has won The Union’s Best Of Nevada County Assisted Living category every year since 2004.

As a matter of fact, today at our annual luncheon I am presenting Ryan with the 2014 Best Of Nevada County Assisted Living award to Eskaton. This was voted on by more than 3,300 of The Union’s readers. It must be doing something right.

Eskaton is a top advertiser in The Union pages, and Ryan has written a column each month for the last three months for the Senior Living section. If you haven’t read them, you should. They are informative, sincere and very funny.

But even with all that, The Union has to cover the ups and downs of local businesses. Eskaton, like all of us, is not perfect. The lead plaintiffs’ lawsuit has nine complaints against Eskaton’s Sacramento management of alleged breach of fiduciary duties, financial elder abuse, unfair business practices and negligence. So The Union has to cover it.

As a news organization, we are trusted by the community to hold local businesses and our government accountable. We are the watchdog for western Nevada County.

The last time this happened, prior to Ryan’s time there, The Union ran a story about Eskaton’s staff voting to unionize. This coverage resulted in the assisted living company pulling all its ads from the newspaper.

This week’s story will likely have a similar impact on the newspaper.

Of course, this doesn’t help The Union financially in the short term. But this is Eskaton’s right, and I understand why they might do it. As the newspaper of record in western Nevada County, we can’t allow advertising to steer our news coverage or cloud our editorial judgment.

I’ve learned it’s hard to focus on both the community and your customers. It’s hard to make everyone happy. I know this better than anyone. This week alone I had one reader threaten to sue me and another reader canceled her subscription because we didn’t write about her business.

When I called Ryan, then saw him the next day at Rotary, we had one of those odd and awkward moments where we know we have to do our jobs but in doing so we are complicating our goal of working together for the community.

I was very impressed with his actions that morning. His expression showed a confidence that he’d make his customers happy and get on with helping the community. I found that inspirational, and it reaffirmed my own goals.

Both Ryan and I appear to have a similar path. Provide for our customers and help the community. This week we are strange bedfellows for sure. We have our jobs to do, but find ourselves focused on the greater community good at the same time.

Not an easy path. We need to support people like Ryan. He can help make a difference in our community.

To contact Publisher Jim Hemig, email jhemig@theunion.com or call 530-477-4299.

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