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People of Woodland: Jim Smith

jim smithTell me your name and occupation.
Jim Smith, Editor, The Daily Democrat

How long have you had your position with the Daily Democrat?
Since May 1994 I have been the Editor of The Democrat.

How has reporting the news changed since you’ve been with the Democrat?
There is a lot less emphasis for our part of our print edition, and a lot greater emphasis on our website and social media sites.  This reflects what has happened across the country.  I have found that the actual nature of “reading and comprehension” depends on which source of news people use. For our print edition, people want more “feature-style” stories. For our web editions, people want the news fast and brief.  I’ve also discovered, however, that people believe they can “absorb” what a news story is about by merely reading the headline.  This makes it hard to communicate the actual developments of a story or even since people see what they want to see without fully thinking about a story.

What has been the most gratifying story you’ve reported while at the Democrat?
There is no one single story.  My mission at The Democrat has been and will continue to be that of educating young writers and helping them grow so they can keep our society well informed and our republic strong, as well as keeping our readers as informed as we can with the resources provided by The Democrat’s parent company and our publisher.

Your job is inherently integrated into the community. From a personal standpoint, what has been the most challenging and positive part?
Being “all things to all people.” I try and attend numerous gatherings and events to stay in touch with the community, but I wouldn’t necessarily call all of them “positive.”  It’s simply the nature of my position to be aware of what is going on so I can synthesize the information I obtain and determine story coverage for my limited staff.  The challenging aspect is that I’m always “on the job” with little personal down time.

What are your hobbies and interests outside of your job?
By necessity, the job is my life. I am at work 24/7/365.  However, of those things I do infrequently when time permits, they include reading (which includes mysteries, science fiction, biographies and action thrillers as well as news magazines), wine tasting and taking an active interest in current affairs.  If I ever get the time I intend to start writing again and get my second book written and published.  As well, since my tongue cancer is considered in remission, I am constantly striving to maintain my health, which means a lot of time in the gym to keep my weight and blood pressure under control.

Where do you see Woodland five & 10 years from now?
In five to 10 years, Woodland will be much more like Davis is in 2015.  It will be demographically younger and more culturally diverse. While there will still be an emphasis on agriculture as our primary employment base, it will be less on actual cultivation and more on food processing and distribution.  The population will also be better educated as people who attended school at UC Davis and Woodland College make their homes and raise their families here.  A lot more energy will be devoted to leisure pursuits as people realize that Woodland is, in fact, the gateway to the Capay Valley, which means Cache Creek Casino, along with hiking, rafting and farmland tours. Woodland’s proximity to the Sacramento Airport will also give it a greater cosmopolitan feel as people visiting the region for business or pleasure come to know the town.  Woodland’s challenge will be in maintaining its present small-town atmosphere while still being able to offer “big city” amenities such as fine dining, theaters and diverse recreational activities.