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An image from the column that was published on April 20, 1994, recapping my first year at Feather Publishing.

Thank you: It’s been a joy and a privilege to bring you the news

By Debra Moore

[email protected]


Tuesdays are the most difficult. Or is it Mondays? But then Sundays are tough also. What am I talking about? Those are the days when my sense of loss is the greatest.

For the past three years, Plumas News has been my focus. Writing, editing, and posting news — whenever it happens and wherever I happen to be. Shopping in Chico with a friend…wait there’s an active shooter threat at CRC, grab my laptop. Having a sleepover with the grandkids…wait there’s an apartment fire in East Quincy. And so it goes…

But that’s not the way it used to be. No, there used to be a rhythm to the week. Wake up Wednesday morning with the newspaper freshly published. Smile when I stop at the local coffee shop and see people reading it. Head to the office to plan the next week’s edition.

The news deadline was Friday, but weekend events and late-breaking stories and photos continue into Monday morning. To get a head start on the week, I took the Chester Progressive home over the weekend to hand draw where I wanted the photos and stories to appear on each page. I worked with Sunday Night Football in the background, and now it seems odd to watch a game without my ruler and pencil nearby. The next day it would be time for the Indian Valley Record, the Portola Reporter and Feather River Bulletin — assembled in the order that they would roll off the press. Mondays were busy with everyone working to get the week’s editions out; I loved the steady hum of voices and equipment.

But nothing compared to Tuesday. I never tired of watching the press come to life and seeing the slow chugging of the machine give way to a fast whirr as the pages streamed by; pressmen tweaking the various settings until they reached optimum alignment and color. Watching the front page roll off the press always filled me with a sense of pride and awe — a week ago there was nothing and now there was a finished product valued by the community.

When I walk through the press area now — where the printing press looms tall but silent; where huge rolls of newsprint once stood; where the inserting machine sits idle — I’m filled with a profound sense of loss.

Back on April 8, 2020, we published what would turn out be our last newspaper, though we didn’t know it at the time. We planned a brief hiatus as the world sorted out how to handle this new virus. Everything was shutting down due to COVID, and everyone was laid off at Feather Publishing except for a skeleton crew. We thought the paper might be idle for a month, maybe two, certainly not longer. I admit, a part of me welcomed the respite from the nonstop deadlines. A brief pause from filling news pages would be rejuvenating. I used to lament the editorial page the most, because while I could jockey to fill the rest of the newspaper, there needed to be a weekly editorial to fill its traditional space on the page. More than once, I was tempted to simply print in big type: We Have No Opinion Today.

I came to work for Feather Publishing in 1993 — hired part-time to write soft news, but within a couple of weeks, Jane Braxton Little announced she was heading to the Sacramento Bee, and I assumed coverage of county government, school board and more. I loved my job.

I remember telling former publisher Mike Taborski once that I didn’t care which day of the week it was — Monday or Friday — I loved coming to work. (He questioned whether he needed to pay me if that’s how I felt.) A couple of weeks ago I was up on the second floor of the Feather Publishing building looking at the bound past editions and came across a column that I wrote in April of 1994 after completing my first year. Riding in the Indy 500 pace car down the Canyon; having lunch with Sen. Barbara Boxer when she visited Collins Pines; and entering a burning building during a live training exercise with the Graeagle Fire Department, were some of the standout moments I wrote about. But there was also the interview with the 94-year-old man as he watched the church that he had built 50 years prior be demolished. I wrote: “On what was obviously a sad day, he shared with me the joy he had felt when it was erected. He pointed with pride to the support beams he had placed himself, but which were now being ripped apart by the machinery.”

Sharing the moments of people’s lives from the seemingly mundane to the profound, is one of the great joys of being a journalist. I concluded that column by writing “Thank you for sharing your lives with me and letting me write your story.”

The past three years have been exhilarating and exhausting. So much so that on day 58 of the Dixie Fire, I found myself in the ER unable to form a sentence. Diagnosis: dehydration and exhaustion. I asked for help and a retired Forest Service employee came to my rescue providing some of the daily updates. (Thank you Michael Condon.)

I had to take it down a notch, but that’s not in my nature, and lately I have been unable to do anything the way I truly want. I know what makes a good story — the research, the interviews, the follow-up that’s required — and it isn’t always possible. This is a vast county with several distinct communities, and we were working with a very skeleton crew. We could hold it together during COVID because there weren’t a lot of activities, but now with life relatively back to normal — our model is not sustainable. Particularly when you add in the 24/7 news coverage we have become known for providing.

During the Dixie Fire and other disasters — floods, crumbling canyons, house fires, murders and general mayhem — we took our role of providing timely and accurate news very seriously. During the height of the Dixie Fire, we hit 750,000 page views a week; people were coming to us for critical information.

Someone once told me that when they hear a siren, they go to Plumas News. While flattering, that just upped the pressure to provide that information. Ultimately, there was just too much news and not enough resources. We considered putting up a pay wall but decided against it. It would intensify the expectations, but not provide the funding truly necessary to finance it.

I have known for a while that it was time to pull back, but I didn’t want to abandon the community. Turns out I was abandoning other parts of my life. Ultimately it was my grandson who made my decision. I was hosting a family party for his fifth birthday when the Forest Service called — flooding in the Canyon had washed out Caribou Road and they would be sending details. Could I post it ASAP? Of course.

As the others were eating cake, I was sitting next to the birthday boy, typing into my laptop. “Jamma, it’s my birthday. I don’t want you to work. You are always working.” I stopped, looked at him, said “I’m sorry” and then finished what I was doing. He was right. Even when I was present, I wasn’t truly present.

That will end Aug. 1. But even though it’s the right time, it doesn’t mean it isn’t painful, and the past few weeks have been filled with tears. I will miss the relationships that I have forged over the past three decades — with county and school officials, with contributors, with our readers.

I wanted to acknowledge everyone and started a list, then realized it could go on for pages. And then I remind myself that though I will no longer be maintaining Plumas News, we still will be in the community with our other publications including our monthly magazine High Country Life. Call me old-fashioned, but nothing compares to print. Recently a friend sent me a video of her son turning the pages of the most recent edition of our magazine and crying out in delight when he saw his photo. No doubt it will be clipped for a scrapbook, or the magazine saved in its entirety. With our time and resources freed up from daily reporting duties, that energy now can go into the magazine.

This makes the transition easier because I don’t have to officially say goodbye. I can still work with our reporters and here I do want to give a special shout out to Lauren Westmoreland, Gregg Scott, Meg Upton and Mari Erin Roth for all of their contributions over their years with Feather Publishing, particularly these past three. I know it wasn’t what any of us signed up for or were used to, but they helped keep the news flowing to our readers. I’m happy that they all will be regular contributors to the magazine. And a special thank you to my two publishers — first Mike Taborski and now Cobey Brown — we have enjoyed a unique relationship over the years. I’m a writer but words can’t adequately express what you have meant to me.

And that pertains to all of you as well. I have been trying to find the words to describe how much this job has meant to me and how privileged I have felt to be able to do it for so long, but I can’t. So, I will simply reiterate the words that I wrote three decades ago: “Thank you for sharing your lives with me and letting me write your story.”

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24 thoughts on “Thank you: It’s been a joy and a privilege to bring you the news

  • Debra – thanks for all of your work over the years. As an out of the area reader, it has helped me stay connected with what is going on and important in Plumas County. Your commitment is much appreciated and I am glad that life’s next chapter sounds like it will have a better balance for you.

  • Mere words cannot describe the loss and the void left by your departure, and the Plumas News. I’m sure that the Plumas Sun will fill the gap but you will leave a legacy of community enrichment and class. All the best in your next chapter.

  • Thank you to everyone at Plumas News. You will be sorely missed. You produced a local newspaper which was so much better, so much above the standard of what is expected of local newspapers.

  • Wonderfully written (as usual) farewell to this chapter of your life. You are a pillar of our community and will always have my highest respect and gratitude….

  • Debra, Plumas County was blessed when you moved up here and you have done a stellar job as reporter and editor. I’ve lived in many small communities over the years and, bar none, the news published by Feather Publishing beat other small town local press hands down. I have faith that Jane and her crew will continue the excellence we’ve taken for granted, but I didn’t want this milestone to pass without sending a sincere “Thank You” for all you and the rest of Feather Publishing have done.

  • Your expertise , elegant writing, knowledge of everything that goes on in Plumas County will be greatly missed.
    Thank you so much for all your dedication. Long hours, patience, and kindness to bring us the news that we depended on, expected and more importantly, we’re grateful for.
    Best wishes always, for whatever endeavors your future holds.
    Again thank you!

  • I’ve been a Bulletin subscriber since 1978 so I have had the opportunity to read your reports from day one. You have done an outstanding job, one from which I have benefited again and again all of these years. I wish you the best with your future.

  • Thank you for your incredible hard work bringing all of us the news, with eloquence and professionalism.
    You will be dearly missed, but enjoy those now uninterrupted birthdays, family times and some well deserved moments doing whatever brings you joy!

  • GrandMa Debra….please add my name to the thousands who appreciate what you have added to our community……..Guy McNett

  • Debra- For twenty-one years I served the County as its Social Services Director and Public Guardian. I can recall many statewide meetings where I’d huddle with my counterparts and where a typical topic was handling media relations. More than just a few times a complaint would be shared about how one Director or another had experienced what they characterized as “unfair coverage” by their local media. I never did. During my tenure I always considered the Bulletin to be fair and fact-based. Better, you all allowed me to address citizens directly through “Perspectives” pieces. Thanks again, it’ll be missed.

  • Debra, you have been so important in the life of Plumas County residents, but I completely understand your need to back off. You deserve the retirement. Have fun with your grandkids and now that you aren’t working all the time maybe we can get over to see all the improvements you made on our first Quincy home. Thank you so much for all you have done for so long.

  • Dear Debra,

    Such an eloquent final piece on your (literally) life-changing career with Feather Publishing. Being born in Plumas County, I’ve grown up with the printed news, first the Greenville Record and then the FR Bulletin as I made the big jump to Quincy and later Meadow Valley after college. I have have clippings (thank you mom) of my poems and stories in high school, and wonderful memories of Mal Mackey and Bob Posner using the “paper” in our English classes at GHS. Our marriage was announced in the paper in 1989, and the birth of our daughter in 1992. My brother’s obituary in 1996 and my dad’s in 2015.

    As a career educator working in four different schools across my 22 year career, I cannot express what the news coverage did for our students, families, teachers and profession. You and Mike and later Cobey, instantly embraced our small “Junior Trojan Times” at QHS, and happily did tours of the office and the print room so our student writers could see and understand the amazing project they were undertaking. Feather Publishing also printed our tiny monthly paper for free, supporting the importance of student writing and journalism. l treasure the memories of Janet Radke clipping out all the photos and articles of our students at QHS each week, and stapling them to her beautiful bulletin board so the kids could see themselves, and the vitality of their lives, in print. Later as a teacher leader, during both stable and challenging times with the District Office, your utter professionalism Debra, was par none.

    There are simply not enough words of thanks for what you as a reporter and editor, the Taborski family, the Brown family, all the reporters and the many, many others it takes to publish local news have done for all of our Plumas Communities. As has been stated so many times, what Plumas News did during Covid and the several years of fires in terms of keeping our community safe and informed is astounding.

    As a newly minted grammie who quit her full time career for more time with family, I fully understand leaving a beloved profession and outstanding colleagues, as well as the grief which understandably ebbs and flows.

    You have made an enormous difference Debra, and you will be deeply missed.

    Suzanne Schramel-Stirling

  • Thank you very much for having done such a great job. We will all miss you and your work. Good luck and speed in whatever your future may bring!

  • Debra- Like so many others, I’ve been an outsider looking in since my Lake Almanor parents passed away. You’ve helped me feel connected to Plumas County and all that they, and I loved about the area. Thanks so much…

  • Thank you Debra, and the rest, for achieving priceless articles and content over the years for all of us. I wish you all the best.

  • There’s a saying we see on license plate frames and tee-shirts: “Plumas County, Gem of the Sierras.” Plumas News has been a gem, and I appreciated it from the moment I arrived in the county in 1988. (Though having moved here from Sacramento and being used to a daily newspaper, it took a while to get used to a weekly!)

    As a journalism junkie, I thank all of you who fed my addiction of needing to know “what’s happenin’ now.” Local papers are the glue that binds community members together, sometimes in tight cohesion, sometimes in a messy mash-up of different opinions, but for better or worse, bound together we are. A special thanks to Debra, who was always an indispensable “go to” for press releases about local blood drives and a few other events in which I was involved. We’ll definitely feel the void tomorrow when there’s no email from Plumas News announcing a new post. That said, I encourage everyone to support the Plumas Sun as it endeavors to fill that void–I’m hopeful that the Sun will be as successful as was Plumas News. Bring it!

  • Debra and Cobey and all you former Feather Pub pals,

    I couldn’t let this day go by without sharing my gratitude and joyful memories for the many years I was able to occasionally work with you all at Feather Publishing. Debra, you’ll recall we started our new jobs the very same year … soon you became an editor to whom I’d send press releases and Chamber Update columns, always appreciating your careful editing and the column inches you’d spare! Moreso, I am grateful for the time you’d take phoning me to discuss news tips or just to catch up. (Come to think of it, that was before the Internet!)
    The longtime partnership between Feather Pub and the former Plumas County Visitors Bureau resulted in more than just tourist brochures, maps and the quality, and enduring Plumas County Visitors Guide. I was rewarded with bonding friendships during those weeks shared on deadline with you two, Kevin Mallory, Juliet Beer and so many other Feather Pub employees. You and Mike gave much-appreciated editorial support to the county tourism marketing program through years of county budget cuts and the painful final closure of the Visitors Bureau in 2012. But thanks to you, the Visitors Guide showcasing Plumas County’s beauty and attractions remains.
    In more recent years, Feather Pub helped me share the joy of being a soccer and ski mom by running week after week of high school coverage along with parent-submitted stats and photos. Thanks Mari Erin Roth, you were so generous with your ever-shrinking space! Thanks to those newspaper clips, I will cherish those sports memories. And yes, I’ve saved them all – plus every issue of the Visitors Guide, and even those Chamber Updates from the 90s!
    This loss we share has hit me hard … but it’s not just due to witnessing another community newspaper and career that folded.
    It’s because the staff of Feather Pub felt like family.

    Sure we’ll get some news back, and hopefully some place to send our press releases. But it’s you all that will be so missed. Thanks for all those years of deadlines, your columns and making Wednesdays the best day of the week. Best wishes for a bright future ahead!

    Suzi Brakken

    • Thanks Suzi, you’re a fantastic mom:)) the best. Thanks for getting me up to the ski slopes and all your input of details and photos!

  • Thank you for your years of service, Debra! I agree, nothing compares to print. It has been a pleasure working with you!

  • This publication and your journalism has kept me tied into this wonderful area. Thank you for a job Well Donr

  • Debra, I have always admired your reporting, Its informative, has integrity, and your delightful sense of humor has really helped during the “hard times”. WIt was easy to read your love for our little county in each story. Along with my late husband Tom, I left and returned to Quincy a few times over the years, but we always stayed in touch and current with Quincy happenings, thanks to ‘The Bulletin’.
    As you know Tom worked with Mike on and off over the last 35 years and he considered Mike a true confidante, advisor and trusted friend. He also adored you! It was bittersweet, yet fitting that the very last printed news paper, carried his obituary.
    You will all be missed greatly. You and your team have been such a large part of our lives. I remember years ago, when you called the ER at PDH, because you heard on the scanner that Tom was taken to the hospital by ambulance. You were only calling out of concern, not to report. Tom and I had many a laugh about that day as his final diagnoses was “gas” (I think he is probably ok with me sharing that now).
    Thank you Debra, and to all the staff for so many “Wednesdays”. Wishing you so much happiness, rest and fun with your grandchildren!
    You’re the best!
    Jill Perdue (and an xo from Tom)

  • Excellently put Debra! Thanks for the reminder of those fun deadlines on Friday and Mondays, our crazy turn arounds for weekend events like HSMF, the fair, graduations at all the schools!!! Wow what a ride. I LOVED taking my blanks and working on layouts, loved it! Thank you for all your generosity teaching me and patience as I learned. Nothing better than the perfect eraser and a great pencil. Your part in the papers was so wide before Covid – reviewing each piece, fitting them all in on 4 separate editions, and then how you took on all the roles yourself after, what a heavy load. I’m glad the job didn’t snuff out your bright light and that readers can again enjoy the benefit of your guidance in journalism focused on Plumas County. Yea! You made it! And thank you- for all your literary gifts:)

  • Debra,
    Your dedication, insight and writing have been nothing short of remarkable. I have often marveled at the quality of your work and the overall excellence of Plumas News/Feather Publishing on your watch. Thank you for all you have done for Plumas County.

  • Simply stated, you’re the best professional I’ve ever witnessed in Plumas County, Debra. I’ll always be grateful for the eloquent, professional, timely, well-researched, personal (i.e., locally-informed) way you celebrated and informed our communities through the decades. I realize I probably took it for granted and know that I didn’t thank you enough along the path, but it’s truly been a privilege to watch you work as you’ve pursued your passion and mastered your craft. In doing so, you’ve enhanced my life, my family’s life, and our communities’ lives in countless ways. Best wishes always as you enter this new chapter.

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