Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Americana Lives --- Day 8/274

Walk: SPCA, Hood
Distance: 4 miles, Yoga

Besides Tom Hanks breaking down into tears when accepting the Cecil D. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes, this is by far the most heart-warming story Ciwt has encountered in the year 2020.
She reprints it in its entirety.  (Just look at that picture!  Aaww).

Don Russell (left) is stepping down as publisher and editor of the Mountain Messenger. Carl Butz (right) is taking over on Jan. 20, 2019.  Established in 8153, the paper covering Sierra and Plumas counties is the oldest weekly newspaper in California.

California's oldest weekly newspaper, which once featured the writing of Mark Twain, has been saved.
A California man is taking over the Downieville-based Mountain Messenger, covering school board meetings, federal land use and other issues in rural Sierra and Plumas counties northeast of Sacramento.
Carl Butz, 71, said he canceled plans for a multi-month trek across Europe and Asia to step into the role of editor-publisher, beginning Jan. 20.
"I've been a widower for three years and this is a new chapter in my life," said Butz, who lives in an off-the-grid cabin in Downieville. "What am I going to do? Go on another trip around the world? Instead, I'm doing something good for the community, and I feel good about it.
Established in 1853, the Mountain Messenger publishes every Thursday with a circulation of about 2,400. Mark Twain famously wrote a handful of stories for the publication under his real name, Sam Clemens, while hiding out from the law.
"He'd accepted a challenge to a duel in Virginia City, and the State of Nevada had just outlawed dueling and so the governor said, 'Look I can hold this warrant for 24 hours, but you got to get out of here,'" said Don Russell, 70, the current publisher who is retiring.
Russell said he has tracked down two of Twain's old stories in the archives and said, "They were very short, one column by three or four inches. They were not particularly entertaining."
After 30 years of doing everything from selling ads to reporting stories, Russell is ready to step down. He has spent the past year trying to find a new publisher and said in recent years covering expenses has been challenging. His salary last year was $3,000.
"We found a pigeon to carry it on!" Russell said. "I'm very happy about it. He is now on the porch talking to the L.A. Times. He and I had been talking about it for a long time. I had pretty well talked him out of it. This is a losing business. But he's an old-timer, and well-connected to the community, related to half the county. It's a very easy and casual hand-off. The paper is in good hands."
A retired independent software consultant, Butz plans to do some writing and editing and will be recruiting new writers. The region is popular for outdoor recreation and he hopes to increase coverage on mountain bike and snowmobile trails and campground availability.
The paper currently doesn't have an online presence and he may explore making a digital version available, but he has no plans to turn off the presses.
"I got all these papers from the 1800s. They're wonderful to be reading now," he said. "Nobody is going to be doing that 100 years from now with the digital stuff. I'm not a Luddite but I think there are some things we shouldn't lose. The printed word being one of them."

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