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Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 10:08 am | Updated: 10:57 am, Tue Jul 2, 2013.

I started writing this column 40 years ago, the day I walked into a newsroom for the first time and got paid for the work I did. But my newspaper career started long before that.

I printed my first newspaper in fifth grade. Really. Printed it. We didn’t have fancy copiers in those days, so like some Medieval scribe I hand printed three copies of a single page, two-sided “newspaper” in pencil on scratch paper. It had all the basic fifth-grade news, even an advice column by “Flan Anders,” no less. Classmates liked it.

After all these years, I still enjoy putting together every issue of the newspaper, more than 1,000 here at the Enterprise, probably close to 8,000 or more over the years. I still want to hear what readers have to say.

I don’t know how many words I’ve penned. The “Complete Works of Buzz Eggleston” will probably fill a very large trash bin.

People naturally assume journalism is about that aspect of the job – about writing, that is, not filling trash bins. And it is, but that’s just a small part. Art is about more than paint. Pottery is more than clay. And journalism is more about psychology, sociology, and a bunch of other ologies. It is about people. It’s about change and spotting change. By definition change is what’s new, change is “News.”

In my early days, newspapers were regarded by some as a form of manufacturing. I started on the nightshift manufacturing news stories on a manual typewriter, again, on scrap paper, but in triplicate separated by carbon paper. Desktop ashtrays overflowed, coffee flowed. It was a gritty, and in my case, very late-night business.

Editors actually used pencils and rulers, called pica poles, and glue pots to paste the scraps of paper together. Type was set on Linotype machines. They melted lead in a process to eventually form pages suitable for offset presses. It was all so very modern at the time.

Computers came along and replaced the typewriter, but not much else. The Internet as we know it came much later. Libraries, telephones and personal interviews were our main research tools into the 1990s. We wore ties and dress coats. We were formal.

Back in the Pleistocene, I went from being a reporter to become an editor, a person who cleans up other’s writings among other things, and I have edited countless words in the years since I assumed that title. I’ve also chosen thousands of photos to print, made countless story assignments, answered readers’ questions or tried to, heard their stories and dealt with their complaints. I’ve made mistakes – lots of them – and did my best to make up for them. You can never really make them “right.”

Retirement will be nice. That said, since announcing my exit plan, I’ve been surprised by some people’s reactions. Maybe I chose the wrong word. Maybe I should have said “career change” instead of retirement or maybe “retirement from newspapers.” I plan to do other things now. If called upon, I’ll contribute to the Enterprise now and then. Mostly, though, I plan to sit back less than I do now and as much as possible avoid deadlines.

I am indebted to my family, especially wife Karen. She tolerated my obsession with this business, my frequent ab-sence, and stood by me in good times and bad.

I am indebted to the excellent people at the Calaveras Enterprise, past and present, who also tolerated me and whose professional expertise made my work better.

I am indebted to the kindness of those who pay to read the Enterprise and those who paid to read the other newspapers I worked on over the years. And I’m especially indebted to those who kindly – or not – opened their lives and occasionally their filing cabinets to my probing questions.

I am indebted to all who shared their writing skills with me and who helped me to better tell stories.

I am most deeply grateful to the warm and hospitable people of Calaveras County who welcomed me 10 years ago and who have patiently mentored me as I learned my way around here.

Newspaper work has always been interesting, never more than it is today. I am leaving it at the onset of a new era with new challenges and opportunities. Worn ways of communicating are being discarded, again, and new ones tailored to consumers’ choices are coming online. News and how we convey it will always change.

I would say this to you, though: Never take newspapers, freedom of speech, or democracy for granted. Stand up and defend them, not for their sake, but for your own.

Thanks for sharing your news with me and thanks for all the years you have allowed me to share news with you.

Contact Buzz Eggleston at buzz.calent@gmail.com – or not.

© 2015 Calaveras Enterprise. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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7 comments:

  • kjohnson posted at 7:50 pm on Mon, Jul 1, 2013.

    kjohnson Posts: 197

    Buzz, I too want to pile on - and say Thanks for publishing my menacing little column now for 5 years ! I still have no idea if you are Conservative or Liberal and that says a whole lot about your quality of fairness and listening to all sides. Since we both worked for the Palo Alto Times / Redwood City Tribune in our past ( you as a reporter, me as a paperboy ) I have to bet your crowning glory was in running the operations of the Enterprise so well for all this time.

    When the heat clears a bit we will have to have you and the gang out to the ranch for some Calaveras fun. Take care, Ken

     
  • Sanders LaMont posted at 11:40 am on Fri, Jun 28, 2013.

    Sanders LaMont Posts: 25

    Buzz, Congratulations on starting a new chapter. Thanks for doing a good job through the years. You will thrive. Time to come take a hike in the mountains.

     
  • Katherine Evatt posted at 7:17 am on Fri, Jun 28, 2013.

    Katherine Evatt Posts: 54

    Congratulations, Buzz! Especially in recent years, you've done a great job editing the Enterprise. If you get tired of retirement, perhaps we can persuade you to come over to Amador and show our paper how it's done. Thanks for being a voice for civil discourse and seeking out diverse opinions among your contributors. Best of luck in this next phase of life!

     
  • reagans posted at 5:16 pm on Tue, Jun 25, 2013.

    reagans Posts: 20

    Buzz, my friend, you have been fortunate to have experienced first hand the evolution of the news media, and equally fortunate to be able to turn over the reins before the era of tweeting and texting takes over completely. We will continue to have our periodic lunches and share memories of a time when a news story when through several hands (and eyes), including the linotype operator, before it was ready to be shared with the public. You have served your profession and your community well. The goal of life is to make a difference, and you certainly have done that. I await your next adventure.

    Bob Reagan

    p.s. I wonder how many people understand the meaning of your column title? Sigh.

     
  • posted at 4:04 pm on Tue, Jun 25, 2013.

    Posts:

    Hwy 12 @ Hwy 49
    The other day I had someone follow me to a gas station to tell me what a terrible driver I was for following the law. He was not aware of the fact there is an access lane onto 12/49 even though he explained he had lived in San Andreas for 50 years. For all of you that hold traffic up because you don’t pay attention to what you are doing let me explain it to you. I am typing slowly so you can keep up. If you are on Hwy 49 from Jackson and at the stop sign at 12/49 there is an access lane for you to use to get onto Hwy 12. It is clearly marked and all you have to do is pay attention. If there is no traffic coming from San Andreas and no one turning onto Hwy 49 from Hwy 12 you may go even though there is traffic coming up Hwy 12 from Valley Springs direction. If you notice Hwy 12 is a one lane road with a left turn lane (Onto Hwy 49) and if no one is using that lane and no one is coming from San Andreas you are clear to enter Hwy 12 if you stay in the designated center lane which is not accessible to oncoming traffic by a solid line on the road. So if you are sitting there waiting for all traffic to clear before entering Hwy 12 and someone behind you gives you a little toot on the horn you don’t need to flip them off just pay attention and drive responsibly.

     
  • Bill Withuhn posted at 3:47 pm on Tue, Jun 25, 2013.

    Bill Withuhn Posts: 40

    Working with you, Buzz, has been one of my great pleasures since Gail & I retired and returned home to our native northern Calif -- after 48 yrs on the East Coast & all around the world. So, we are both sorry to "lose" you as CE Editor. Nevertheless -- Bon Voyage to your new career !

    It's great that we'll still see you around & have your editorship of CE for a few months yet. And all CE readers, contributors, commenters, and letter writers should take to heart your charge to us all: "NEVER TAKE NEWSPAPERS, FREEDOM OF SPEECH (and FREEDOM OF THE PRESS), OR DEMOCRACY FOR GRANTED. STAND UP AND DEFEND THEM, NOT FOR THEIR SAKE, BUT FOR YOUR OWN."

    PS: When will CE be announcing an acting editor ?? I know the new person won't be as forgiving as you have been over recent years re my many "re-writes." ...

     
  • Tom Liberty CPR posted at 1:38 pm on Tue, Jun 25, 2013.

    Tom Liberty CPR Posts: 85

    Buzz, I want to sincerely thank you for the fair and impartial manner in which the paper has covered the medical marijuana issue these past five years. It has been a service to the community at large, but especially to the patients and providers who are working so hard to educate the public. If I ever see you around, the drinks are on me.