A bold (and cold) plunge into the new year

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By The Staff

There is nothing quite like starting the new year standing chest deep in 33-degree water. Regardless of what happens in 2010, everything else should seem like a walk on the beach.

After years of covering the annual Evergreen Lake plunge, I finally had the guts to participate. I made the decision to jump several weeks ago, but it wasn’t until I was standing on the edge of a hole cut through 20 inches of ice that I was fully committed. With a giant step forward, I leapt into the icy water.

Saying the water was cold is like saying the sun is hot. After being fully submerged, I can only imagine that getting struck by lightning is a similar experience. For a split second my entire body tenses up and I am unable to move forward. It’s hard to breath. But after that second passes, my brain tells me that this is not a place you want to stay for long and wills my appendages into motion.

Two steps forward and one expletive deleted, I reach the ladder. Hand over hand, with the aid of two firefighters in dry suits, I climb the ladder into the balmy — by comparison — 40-degree winter air. In less than 20 seconds, the experience is over.

I felt like I needed to start out the new year doing something different. Taking the plunge accomplished two things. The first was to change my perspective of the event. It was nice to be out from behind the lens and experience the event from a different angle. Hopefully this will give me some perspective on covering events throughout the year.

The second thing it accomplished was to get the worst thing I would experience in 2010 out of the way early.

2009 was a rough year for journalism. Many talented people lost their jobs or saw the newspapers for which they worked so long disappear overnight. Even smaller papers, which were said to be immune to the financial burdens of larger media companies, had to make cuts to staff and circulation.

Now that 2009 is behind us, I have focused my sights squarely on the new year. I spent so much time worrying about the instability of the industry that I lost sight of what was important to me and our readers.

2010 will be a year of new projects, new techniques and new ways to tell stories. I have fully committed to shooting more video, recording more audio and finding new ways to engage our print publication readers and viewers online.

As small as our staff is, I have to say we have one of the most talented groups of writers/reporters/photographers working on telling stories. I am looking forward to working with everyone and expanding the variety of coverage in 2010.

Matthew Jonas is the photo editor of the Canyon Courier.