Publisher's Notebook: Through difficult times people are always there for us
Tuesday, September 11, 2012 4:46 AM
Not only does a journalist never want to be the news, we also figure that most people aren't interested in news about us because, well, we just report the news, we aren't important enough to make it. Lisa Brainard, our editor for the Republican-Leader in Preston and Lanesboro along with the Chatfield News, proved that wrong last week as she became the big story in our area when people learned that she fell off a bridge just outside of Lanesboro.
The 24-foot fall into a shallow part of the river prompted a range of emotions from our staff - shock, worry, fear, distress and finally optimism as she begins her path to recovery from the severe injuries.
She was doing what she loved to do - covering an event outdoors on the Root River Trail. It was the annual wagon rides on the trail Wednesday for people who have a difficult time experiencing the beauty of the trail on foot.
She was taking photographs from the vantage point of a bridge just outside Lanesboro, and she straddled the railing to get a good view of the wagons with the trail and woods in the background. As a wagon came near, she lifted her leg on the inside of the bridge, lost her balance and fell over into the river, which is very low this year.
A friend, who had accompanied her on the assignment before awaiting other activities Brainard had planned during some time off later in the day, rushed off the bridge and down the embankment to help her.
He kept her head out of the water so she could breathe. An RN on the wagon also rushed down the embankment to help while the Lanesboro Ambulance Service was called in.
Mayo One was also called in, landing at the football field in Lanesboro, but she went to Saint Marys by ambulance.
As of Sunday when I had a short visit with her, she was still in the intensive care unit. Her aorta was injured and surgery Thursday night was required to repair it.
She also has several broken ribs, a broken thumb and a broken bone below her eye socket. It all sounds horrible, but the consequences would likely have been even more severe had she landed on her spine.
Brainard is a very independent woman, hiking, camping in the back country and traveling alone. She probably didn't think she was doing anything risky last Wednesday, just thinking about getting the best shot possible.
I can think of instances where I have put myself in even riskier positions, not really thinking about it at the time as getting a great photo is foremost in my mind. I know I will look at my actions differently now even if this was another one chance in a million occurrence that is easy to analyze in hindsight.
I also look at our roles in the community a bit differently as there has been an unbelievable outpouring of concern and support for our editor. It's been difficult to keep up with all the requests, but it shows how important she was to the people of Preston, Fountain, Lanesboro, Chatfield and beyond.
She is making progress and there were some good signs on Sunday, but it is going to be a long recovery, I'm afraid, as of now, she is still in the intensive care unit at the hospital.
I hope readers bear with us as we make do in the meantime. Her loss won't affect just the two newspapers that she oversaw, but all our newspapers.
She covered many regional stories and our staff will be pitching in to fill in some of the holes for those newspapers, leaving our other newspaper staffing a bit thin. We are a team that helps where and when needed.
We will be praying for a speedy recovery, not for selfish work reasons, but because we can feel her pain. It is a terrifying ordeal that all of us on staff can relate to as she was just doing her job.
The outpouring from the community, though, makes us even more proud of what we do. That demonstration of genuine concern shows that even a small town editor has value that, perhaps, even for those whose very lives are shaped by writing, can't be expressed in mere words.
A heartfelt thank you from all of us and, best of all, I'm sure you will soon be getting a personal thank you from Brainard herself.