Sips from the Firehose


Mar 18

Mr. Mitchell’s Opus


Posted: under journalism, Online Video.
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Readings from “The Light on the Coast”

My very first case study on best practices in journalism was about Dave Mitchell and the saga of the tiny Point Reyes Light. It was a multimedia piece – which, back in 2005, was a real Big Deal for the Online Journalism Review. I shot so many hours of video of Dave explaining his philosophy for running a newspaper, that Dave said that “I don’t think I recognize you without a video camera in your hand pointed in my direction.”

It’s a bit hard to find the files, and I’m not guaranteeing that the video files will play – but they are still up on some hidden portion of the OJR site.

David signing books in the offices of the Point Reyes Light.

David signing books in the offices of the Point Reyes Light.

A little over a week ago, I went back to visit Dave, to celebrate the publication of his book “The Light on the Coast,” a compilation of stories culled from decades of the Point Reyes Light. These are funny, touching, quirky – really, just about any other adjective you could ever apply to the complex little pocket of rural intellectualism that is West Marin.

Many of Dave’s former reporters, editors and photographers traveled long distances to make it to this party. You could tell there was a real kinship between all the people who had worked at the Light over the decades. Journalists reminisced with each other, and mingled with locals in the current offices of the Light, and next door at Vladimir’s restaurant, where we took over the back room.

The entire event was a testimony to the lasting effect that Dave has had on the lives of everyone in this community; how his dedication, hard work, gentle spirit and shaped the evolution of the little communities sprinkled up and down this beautiful coastline. Dave’s stubborn belief in the power and virtue of providing a a good, reliable forum for a community to have a conversation with itself, has meant that West Marin still has a “sense of place” that is sadly missing in so many other areas of the country, where big chain stores and soulless luxury hotels have taken over.

If you are a good journalist, and live your lift with integrity, decency, and caring about the community you work in … if you are really, really lucky … you will get a day like what Dave Mitchell got. You will get a day when your community and your former co-workers all turn out to tell you how much you meant to them. How much your life’s work has positively affected the place that you love so much.

And now, check out some of the readings from Dave Mitchell’s book. You can order it online – I highly recommend it.

First up: Dave reads a Don DeWolfe column about how the Point Reyes Light got its name.

(Don is the editor/publisher who preceded Dave, and who reminisced about the printing technology he used – an actual Linotype machine, with molten lead pouring into molds to print the pages.)

Next up: Dave reads a story about how bar owners used to have to dash back and forth, due to local laws preventing “Lady Bartenders” from serving anything other than beer or wine.

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Dec 01

Tangled Web: Knitting with Janine in Point Reyes


Posted: under Amusing Nonsense.
Tags: , , , , , ,

dave lafontaine bemused by knitting yarn

Last weekend, Janine got into knitting (again – she had learned how years ago and had wanted to start up again so she’d have something to do with her hands in idle moments – not that there are very many of those).

Luckily, we were in Point Reyes, where they raise sheep and there are these wonderful boutique knitting stores that sell this wonderful yarn and *amazing* butter-soft scarves and shawls for big $$$.

She got a couple of skeins of yarn and we worked through the night to unravel them and then ball them up … here’s a photo Dave Mitchell, the publisher of the Point Reyes Light, took of us…

Sigh. Sometimes you just gotta take one for the team…

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