Jeff Ackerman, editor/publisher of The Union, has announced his depature from the newspaper, effective in early July. Jeff is moving to Roseburg, Oregon to take the reins of that city’s News Review.
Jeff came to Nevada County during the contentious NH2020 era, when passions were at their zenith concerning land use issues. It was comparable to being thrown into a snakepit, armed with nothing but a keyboard and a barrel of ink. Even though he was somewhat familiar with the terrain from his days as a reporter here, it was an unenviable position to be in, and he was immediately set upon by both sides in an effort to curry favor with the county’s main source of information. (Yes, there was an internet then, but it wasn’t nearly the force it is today.)
Ackerman was the fourth publisher I had the privilege to work for at the paper. The first three were culled from the advertising arm of the business, and had little desire to express an opinion on the printed page. Jeff, who was a journalist, was not shy about writing what he thought about politicians, policies and people. He ruffled more than a few feathers during his decade-long stint at the top of the news heap. Whether you agreed with him or not, (and I didn’t always follow in lockstep) at least he had the gonads to take a stand. If one of my cartoons contradicted him, he’d still let it run.
Arthur Miller once said a good newspaper is a nation talking to itself. Media has taken some wrenching twists and turns in this new millenium with the rise of the internet, and newsrooms have been decimated by the loss of advertising dollars. Investigative journalism has become the victim of modern economics. People still want the news, they just don’t want to pay for it. As the internet becomes our main source of information, there is a tendency to gravitate to sites that project a certain point of view that caters to one’s own prejudices. It’s the news you want to see, the way you want to see it.
Despite the claims that The Union has become an arm of the right wing, (and there are plenty on the right that would dispute that notion) you can still find many points of view and articles of general interest in the paper every day. Maybe I’m prejudiced, since my work appears there twice a week, but then I’m just an old fashioned guy who still enjoys getting inky fingers from fondling pages that don’t glow in the dark.
So good luck, Jeff. I will miss you. And I look forward to seeing what the new blood will do with the paper that has survived since the civil war. Publishers and editors come and go, but the news goes on.