The first 2 years my parents and I lived in Winnemucca, Nevada were filled with excitement and hard work. I had a new bride and we were part of something rarely done – starting a newspaper from scratch and seeing it rapidly grow into one of the most influential, respected and successful newspapers in the state of Nevada: the Humboldt Sun.
We built our success on our philosophy of what a hometown paper should be. A newspaper is just that: a paper filled with news of immediate impact, concern and interest to the reader. A news story must be as accurate and factual as possible. The reporter's opinions are not to be worked into a news story. The proper place for the expression of opinion is on the editorial page. A hometown paper must be filled with local area and hometown news. The big city daily papers, radio and TV covered the state and national news. We didn't need to unless it had a direct local connection. If it is important to the reader, it is important to us. Even if it means taking a photo of a carrot that looks like Abe Lincoln's head. If the reader thought it was important enough to bring the carrot into our office we'd take a picture and print it in the paper. Maybe not on page 1, but it got printed. Winnemucca and Humboldt County readers loved it. We prospered accordingly.
Dad and I shared the load when covering newsworthy events, and tried to get something into the paper about everything that went on. Not too many months went by before it became evident that we couldn't cover it all. Humboldt County covered an area about 130 miles wide by 95 miles deep. We also covered news from Battle Mountain, about 60 miles east, and Lovelock, NV to the west That's a large area to cover with 2 people.
The main industries in the area were precious metals mining, various farming operations, cattle, and the entertainment industries such as casinos, nightclubs, and red light districts (prostitution was legal in Nevada). Then add schools, government entities (state, county and local), churches, numerous civic organizations, and you've got a lot of news territory to cover. There were not enough hours in the day for dad and I to cover it all.
Dad hired a young man from Georgia as a reporter. John and his wife arrived in November 1972. He covered the courthouse, city hall, most of the police beat, and other stories as needed. Dad still handled most of the big ones, and I had more time to devote to ad sales. I still covered a story once in a while, normally the offbeat and unusual.
The first year John was with us, dad put him to work doing ad sales by phone for the Christmas and New Year greeting editions. One of the early calls he made was to the Scarlet Garter Lounge. He got a rather rude and profane response. He was taken aback and puzzled. Dad listened to his description of the call and then explained that he had called one of the bawdy houses and their normal hours of operation were evenings and nights. John stayed with us less than a year before he and his wife had all they could take of Winnemucca. They never became acclimated to the wild and wooly West life style. Not only were there legal red light districts, but cowboys and others still walked the streets packing pistols and rifles. The 24 hour, 7 day a week wide open culture centered around gambling, drinking and similar activities was more than they could assimilate.
My newspaper experiences have convinced me that it takes a special breed to put up with all the hard work and other aspects of running and working at a newspaper. Having been an editor more than once (the last one for the Sidney Telegraph), I know whereof I speak. I also know that for certain people, being a newspaper editor or reporter is a most fulfilling and satisfying job. A good one puts truth at the top of the list, and personal feelings at the bottom. Unfortunately more and more communities no longer have a hometown newspaper. Sidney along with all of Cheyenne County is very fortunate.