To be specific, we typically have two or three articles generated by our staff each day and then we print miscellaneous Nevada news by the Associated Press. At about 5 p.m., I start working on our front page and second page. Sometimes I fill up the pages and then realize I forgot one or two small staff articles because I didn’t stop to look on our whiteboard or in the computer folder and double-check to make sure I used everything I intended for the day.
I usually feel pretty dumb about this because someone took the time to write the article I overlooked. Thankfully, I have an unlimited amount of space online and can make up for it by publishing the poor little article on our website, but that’s not an excuse not to slow down and think more about what I’m doing.
This past week I thought about this when I went to the media event created by the Washoe County School District to mark the first day on the job for new Superintendent Pedro Martinez. He spent the morning at Lois Allen Elementary School, the same school where my two foster children are in fourth and sixth grades. Since I usually drop them off in the morning anyway, I figured I’d do my parental duty and then stick around to photograph the event. I told the children I’d be doing this and that there would be some TV cameras around, which made them very excited. Of course, they told their classmates about it and they wanted me to come take a picture of their class to put in the newspaper.
It isn’t easy to explain to a 10- and 11-year-old child the intricacies of news judgment, so I just said, “Sure, I’ll come take a picture.” It was just easier that way, and I figured I’d work out the details when I got there.
The event started with a speech by Martinez in the library and then he was scheduled to tour a few classrooms so all us folks with cameras could follow him around and get cutesy shots of him with the students. This was the point where I was hoping my kids’ classrooms were on the list. I told the school district spokeswoman about my dilemma and since I didn’t know which classrooms were theirs, she couldn’t tell me if the super would be visiting them. I dropped a hint that maybe I could roust them from their
studies for a minute to get a photo with him, but Martinez had a busy first day planned and had to rush off to some other meeting.
Not that it would have really been practical to pull the children out of class to meet the superintendent, and I know this was the man’s first day on the job so naturally he’d have a lot to do. But on this incredibly busy day he promised to spend his first 90 days or so on the job talking to the community and getting their input and ideas. Very appropriate and helpful, but how about all the days that follow? It will be very easy to
get caught up in the paperwork and bureaucracy and procedure until, before he knows it, he has gotten so busy doing his job that he forgets to do his job.
The Washoe County School District has a motto that says, “Every Child, By Name and Face, To Graduation.” I watched Martinez talking to a few administrators, teachers and volunteers on Wednesday and I hope he continues well beyond his first 90 days. My two children have a long way to go to graduation and Superintendent Martinez will still have lots of time to get to know their faces before they get to graduation, but I know for sure he will know mine – both as a reporter and a parent. Washoe schools have a lot of faces and names and a lot more of them need to reach graduation. I hope Martinez gets to know them as people and not just statistics as some past superintendents were overly fond of doing.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to make sure I didn’t forget to do anything for tomorrow’s paper.
Nathan Orme is the editor of the Sparks Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.