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Journalist Suzanne Hurt joins The Sacramento Press

Sometimes, being a bit outside the mainstream isn’t just fun, it’s what pays.

According to the blog graphicdesignr.net/papercuts, nearly 25,000 U.S. journalists have lost their jobs in the last 16 months. Nearly 9,000 jobs have been lost so far this year, including at The Sacramento Bee and the Sacramento Business Journal.

But while nearly every other media outlet in Sacramento is shrinking, The Sacramento Press is growing. That’s a wonderful thing in itself, but it gets even better: Because we’re growing, we’re also hiring. And as a longtime journalist watching his beloved profession in agony, being able to actually hire a journalist at a time like this isn’t just a job; it’s a joy.

And when that journalist is a terrific one, so much the better.

We at The Sacramento Press are pleased to announce that we’ve hired Suzanne Hurt to help us cover Sacramento’s downtown/midtown grid. She is the third journalist we’ve hired this year.

Suzanne started today, and is already writing her first story, about this morning’s Hmong protest over the conspiracy trial of Vang Pao, at the Robert Matsui Federal Building. Suzanne threw herself into the event – a story she has already written about extensively for Reuters – before she’d even met everyone in the office. That confirmed our bet that she has the enthusiasm and energy we expect she will bring to her official beat, which will cover business and development issues in our town.

She’ll be writiing about those topics at a time when both business and development are under great stress, but, it is still generally agreed, show remarkable promise for the future.

Our town, now more than 150 years old, continues to develop in new and wonderful ways. This is particularly true in the grid, where a new club or restaurant or office space seems to open weekly, despite the hard times. A new bar, The River City Saloon, opened this weekend on Second Street in Old Sacramento. A beautiful new yoga studio, Asha, opened late last month in the MARRS Building. And a new California Pizza Kitchen opens next week at 16th and L. Many more establishments large and small are in various states of planning and completion.

Suzanne will cover these stories and more as she delves deeper into the town she has called home for about seven years. A native of San Francisco, Suzanne has lived in Chicago, Eugene and now lives in the grid with her photographer partner, Eric Whalen. She loves the area for, as she put it, "all the creative energy you get downtown."

Suzanne has a master’s degree in literary journalism, but business and development is a relatively new beat for her. She has written on a wide variety of topics, from spelunking to swine flu, from the Laos coup plotters to yoga, and she has done those stories for an equally wide variety of publications: Reuters news service, the City News Bureau of Chicago, the Register-Guard in central Oregon, the Chicago Tribune and The Sacramento and Modesto Bees. She has also done work for National Public Radio.

"I’m excited to be part of this journalistic experiment," she told me. "I guess I’m what people refer to as a ‘traditional journalist,’ and I am a professional, but I’m also an innovative person, and I’m looking forward to this process of creating this new journalistic hybrid."

True to that attitude, Suzanne has also done multimedia work, producing podcasts and online slide shows and editing digital photos. It is her enthusiasm for the possibilities of citizen journalism and the web, as well as her passion for traditional journalism, that made her our winning candidate.

Like the two other journalists we hired last month — apprentice Jonathan Mendick and city politics reporter Kathleen Haley — Suzanne will not only be writing stories, she will be interacting with readers and those who post comments on The Sacramento Press. Our "paper" will remain at heart a community project, a place for all citizens to contribute and have their voices heard. Now, it also offers hope to those who want to step into a journalistic role at a time when so many others are stepping — or being pushed — out.

Welcome to The Sacramento Press, Suzanne!

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