When Stephen Daniels asked me to take over The Proclaimer at the end of 2020, you would be right describing my immediate thoughts as a mixture of galvanized and nervous.
I was an admirer of The Proclaimer back when it launched in 2018, so one can imagine my excitement at reinvigorating it after the enveloping chaos exacerbated by the first plague year. Our staff grew with our coverage stretching far across the Santa Clarita Valley, and yet the never-ending existential illness of the journalism industry has put our team in a heartbreaking situation.
The shutdown of our operations, and therefore my parting ways with this young online publication, is indeed be temporary. It is not to say The Proclaimer is gone for good, but the struggle to fund everyone and the “reopening” conditions of the pandemic have both provided the staff with the prospect of new opportunities. Respectfully, they’re on the right path and I must join them.
The victory in leading this group of (respectfully, again) rabble-rousers, punks, geeks, students and muckrakers has been to take a less orthodox look at covering news in Santa Clarita. Not to mimic anyone and not to compete with anyone, but to drive our own wedge addressing the underrepresented and covering issues weighing on residents’ minds. Not everything addressed people’s material conditions (admittedly, as it is a great emphasis of mine when it comes to the point of journalism). Ignoring some of the great political and pedagogical shifts in SCV would have been a blight on our record.
Change within SCV steadies at an evolutionary pace. There’s solace in witnessing the steps toward greater inclusion, something I could not have imagined on the eve of the SB 54 city council meeting almost four years ago. Anyone on either side of the political aisle here will tell you hard-fought victory can easily be snuffed out. Such changes have filled this longtime resident with a sense of hope for SCV’s future, but I well understand any agent or coalition of change cannot settle following such a victory. I won’t bore you with more on the state of the city only to say the work goes on. As author Mike Davis says, “Never give up the street.”
Our readers, far and wide, deserve the utmost thanks that an EIC can ask for. Your support, your feedback and especially your criticisms made us sharper and helped us. What is defined to be “good journalism” by many Americans misses the point, even by the most eagle-eyed readers (partisan cable television is ineligible to receive Pulitzers). The strength of good local journalism comes from a community not inundated by society’s stagnation and alienation but by those who see strength in independent information gathering within direct community engagement. Southern California is a news desert. Even the near collapse of the Los Angeles Times some years ago would have been catastrophic to the industry on the west coast; smaller publications quickly rise and fall leaving a characteristically blue collar, Angeleno impression. My sincerest hope for a ragtag group such as ours is we left something good behind, to paraphrase the late Glenn Frey.
The greatest thanks is deserved to my staff. To Stephen, for hiring me and giving me a chance when the world seemed most dark; to Kailey and Kenny, for extending our reach over the phone and online. To the reporters: Quynn, Michaela, Lee, Matt, Noah, Savannah, Julianna and Trevor. All of you brought a new humanity to the craft of journalism the likes of which I have not seen within our collected Santa Clarita Valley/San Fernando Valley space in many years. Go on to persevere in your endeavors. Naturally, thank you too to Sebastian for your marvelously sardonic illustrations and for bearing with my SCV history lessons.
What will be next for me? I look past the horizon, beyond this stage of Covid-instilled exile where I can continue to grow after all I have learned these couple of years. Wherever I find myself, I cannot promise I will fully look back. Only when I think of those who made this time worth working, struggling and living will I turn around and see their faces. You enlivened me to make this happen.