Through Conflict and Celebration, Moonshine Ink Tells the News


In school, reporters usually learn that an incident is not news unless it contains conflict. But some journalists push back, saying too much conflict creates negativity in a community, causing stress and spotlighting the worst parts of human nature.

On the other hand, it’s exceedingly interesting to see how humans resolve disagreements. Isn’t it in those settlements, after all, that we achieve progress? It’s hard to land firmly on one side or the other of this debate, and so the dialogue continues.

It is not disputed that one of our jobs as journalists is to be a watchdog for the public — in particular, to make sure that public money is spent wisely, that elected and non-elected leaders are not hoodwinking us, and that societal messes — like environmental pollution, a lack of senior care, or poor communication among agencies — are cleaned up. Sometimes an issue will come to a head, and a resolution may escape us, but highlighting it is the first step to finding our way. Such is the case with our reporting on the Truckee post office. 


Also, a newspaper’s job is to celebrate. Local media, in particular, have the chance to feature wonderful moments of community and place. There are so many of these in North Tahoe/Truckee. (See here, here, here, and here.)

In this issue, Moonshine Ink strikes a balance between problems and celebrations in pretty much the same way that it has for 20 years. Two decades have produced 240 editions, each with its own series of cover decisions, news choices, profiles of people, expert photography, conscientious writing, and funny cartoons. A single issue requires a ton of work and talent — more than I realized before production shifted online during the Covid-19 pandemic and we staffers began communicating — almost ad-nauseum — remotely. See our editors’ tips on successfully working from home or on the road in this issue’s Space It Up column.

We wouldn’t have Moonshine without the gumption of two women. In 2002, Mayumi Elegado and Anne Grogan took a leap that few people are fortunate or brave enough to do in their lives. They left permanent jobs to start a monthly newspaper unlike anything that had been done before locally. Yes, they wanted to feature in-depth investigations into the most riveting issues of our community; but, also, they wanted to tell unique stories about us.

They didn’t argue (much) about it; they didn’t (at least publicly) point fingers. Rather, they jumped in with both feet and made the news magazine they wanted to read become a reality. Just like countless business owners of North Tahoe have done. Just like the many of us who put our heads down, dig in, and do whatever it takes to stay here.

Navigating the myriad jobs required to make any news publication thrive has not always been easy for Moonshine. Since 2002, the state of journalism has spun like a pinwheel; economics have jerked up, down, left, and right; new writers and office staff have arrived, and others have left for better paying jobs. Some journalists have gone on to prized journalism masters’ programs. Photographers have launched meaningful careers.

But Moonshine has not departed from its core values: celebrating our place and illuminating our conflicts. It seems to me that the most vibrant of people, communities, and newspapers, are those capable of stepping into both conflict and celebration.

Readers and advertisers, meanwhile, have stayed committed. We are deeply thankful for that.

Here’s hoping the current disputes in our tight-knit North Tahoe society get resolved soon; here’s a “yahoo!” for how great it is to live here; and here’s a final shoutout to the people, like Mayumi Elegado Peacock, who step up and make things happen.

Enjoy this 20th anniversary edition. 


  • Laura Read

    A 32-year Lake Tahoe resident, Laura Read is a freelance writer and editor who's published essays, travel stories, and features in Moonshine Ink, the San Francisco Chronicle, National Geographic Traveler, Sierra, MIT Technology Review, The Furrow, and others. She edited the Wolfdale's Cuisine Unique cookbook by Douglas Dale and copy edited Hans Burkhart's memoir, Above and Beyond - My Life Giving the World a Lift. She lives in Tahoe City.

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