With the battery of horrifying news story upon horrifying news story these days, it’s easy to feel upset and overwhelmed.
It’s always nice to remember there are some undeniably great stories out there. As long as the Thousand Oaks Acorn is around, there will probably be at least one every month. Or at least, there’ll be a squirrel every month.
The aptly named news outlet has been featuring a “squirrel of the month” every month since the mid-1990s, according to editor Kyle Jorrey.
Although it’s a local publication in southern California, the folks at the Thousand Oaks Acorn have run out-of-state squirrel submissions in the past. But Jorrey clarified that while the squirrels may be from out of state, they typically only run photos from local residents. And there’s a seriously high bar to becoming the featured creature.
Any furry contenders will have to live up to the precedent set by past stars like:
Newsroom “legend” has that the feature came to be after Publisher Jim Rule told then-Editor Steve Holt he hated the front page photo one day, said Jorrey. When Holt asked what photo to use instead, Rule semi-jokingly suggested a squirrel ― the paper’s official mascot ― in its place and declared they would call it “squirrel of the month.”
“Holt told him he was crazy and it was an affront to journalism itself, but Jim refused to budge,” Jorrey said. “’The squirrel runs!’”
Readers apparently liked the squirrel of the month so much that they started submitting their own photos, and the rest is history.
Jorrey gave the paper’s owners, Jim Rule and his wife, Lisa, the lion’s share of the credit for keeping the tradition alive.
“He’s an amazing publisher and really a hilarious individual with a serious, serious affinity for squirrels,” Jorrey said. “You should see our office. They’re everywhere.” (He clarified that he was referring to decorations like paintings, sculptures and statues ― not live animals.)
This story has been updated with comments from Kyle Jorrey.