E & P: A new appreciation for DNHS coaches

By Richard Wiens, The Triplicate October 11, 2013 02:15 pm

Today’s the first day on the job for the Triplicate’s new sports editor, Michael Zogg, who just arrived from Iowa.

That’s good news for readers who follow the Warriors and have perhaps noticed that the coverage has been a bit spare in the past month as various news staffers have filled in here and there. Three different people have covered football games, for example. Fortunately, whatever the sport, the words have still been accompanied by Bryant Anderson’s fine photos when Del Norte plays at home.

I’ve been part of the makeshift arrangement, and one thing I’ll take from it is a stronger appreciation of the dedicated coaches who lead our young athletes. I’ve interviewed several of them by phone after a contest, and whether they were celebrating victory or looking for the positives in a defeat, their knowledge of the sport and their empathy for their players was obvious.

We’re lucky to have them, and these conversations have reinforced my belief that the athletic opportunities afforded to our kids — from youth sports to high school varsity competition — are an important part of what makes this a good place to live.

Have fun with them, Michael.

Covering the prison

Once again, reporters came from far and wide to tour Pelican Bay State Prison last week in the wake of a hunger strike protesting the indeterminate terms many inmates serve in Security Housing Units.

I’ve got to give prison officials credit for their patience, as the same questions seem to get asked every time. That’s  probably because only one media outlet follows Pelican Bay consistently and that’s us.

Go to triplicate.com and watch the video of Warden Ron Barnes’ question-and-answer session that led off the tour, and the first query you’ll hear is whether the prison would consider a “step-down” program for inmates to earn their way out of the SHU and back into the facility’s general population. The answer: A “step-down” program is already in place.

Triplicate reporter Anthony Skeens’ coverage of the tour in Tuesday’s edition, “The media and the SHU,” is another example of what can be accomplished if a journalist has two attributes: a) the benefit of long-term experience covering the prison, and, b) the willingness to take an eyes-wide-open approach to covering the compelling but complex issue of what to do about inmates whom investigators say continue to direct criminal activities from behind bars.

Down in Sacramento this week, some legislators were again decrying the SHU system, and some of their concerns are legitimate. Inmate advocates call it indefinite solitary confinement, even “torture.” On the other hand, SHU inmates can have roommates and visitors and access to the prison library. I urge anyone interested in the issue to read Skeens’ recent four-part series by going to 
triplicate.com and searching for “Inside the SHU.”

State of Jefferson?

A front-page article in today’s edition reports on the scene at Tuesday night’s Del Norte Tea Party Patriots meeting, at which the lead proponent of the Jefferson state movement urged Del Norte to get on board.

While forming a 51st state out of far-Northern California and far-Southern Oregon may seem far-fetched, a highly unscientific poll at triplicate.com found support for the concept.

Asked, “Should Del Norte County join the move started in Siskiyou County to attempt to break off from California and form a separate state?” 492 respondents (65.6 percent) said “yes” while 258 (34.4 percent) said no.