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We are so grateful for Julie’s leadership and work that has shaped California Today over the past four years. When we said goodbye to her, we asked her to share a little about the experience.
Do you remember the first California Today you edited? What were the big stories in the state back then?
The first edition, published on September 6, 2016, with a call to readers to tell us about the topics that interested them most and that we wanted to cover. Forest fires, housing and election campaigns were in the foreground – topics that are still extremely relevant today.
The idea was to hear and speak to the readers more directly and use the incredible expertise of our reporters in California to keep them updated. We also wanted to highlight local journalism across the state when much of the media was threatened. My favorite early editions relied heavily on our readers, helping us report the terrible fire in the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse, sharing opinions on the midterms, and giving us tips from a reader in Napa on where to find hidden gems like this can:
“Everyone comes to Napa Valley for the wine. Only a handful of people know Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. Hiking is wonderful and the first mile, in a beautiful, shady forest, ends at a plaque commemorating the location of the hut where Stevenson spent his honeymoon with his new wife Franny in 1880. “
– Kathie Fowler, Napa
In your opinion, what has changed most about the state since then?
In retrospect, it’s amazing how much hasn’t changed. Our first issues were all about forest fires. We spent much of a year studying homelessness and how camps in Oakland resemble those in the developing world. The wealth gap has been a constant issue and only seems to have gotten worse.
Over the past year it has been remarkable to see how Californians have teamed up to fight the pandemic, and it’s comforting to see how well the state is doing now. But it also feels like many problems have only gotten worse. I know people who are considering moving because they don’t want to risk losing their home in another fire.
As my colleague Adam Nagourney said, “The sense of California exceptionalism – why anyone should live elsewhere – is no longer as strong as it used to be.” And as Conor Dougherty points out, there has been a fairly collective recognition in recent years that the current path is unsustainable and we need a serious course correction, but as always there is little consensus on exactly what to do.
In your new role, you will continue to be part of Californian reporting, but is there anything that you, as a Californian, would like to read more about?