We are so grateful for July’s leadership and work on the formation of California Today over the past four years. When we said goodbye to her, we asked her to share a little about the experience.
Remember the first California Today you edited? What were the big stories in the state at the time?
The first issue published on September 6, 2016, with a call to readers to tell us about the issues they pay the most attention to and want us to discuss. Wildfires, housing and ballot papers were all in mind – issues that are still extremely relevant today.
The idea was to hear and speak more directly from readers, and to use all the incredible expertise of our reporters in California to keep them informed. We also wanted to emphasize local journalism across the state at a time when many stores are under threat. My favorite early issues relied heavily on our readers, they helped us report the terrible fire in the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse, give opinions on the middle terms and give us tips on where to find our hidden gems like this from a reader in Napa could find:
‘Everyone comes to the Napa Valley for the wine. Only a handful of people know about it Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. Walking is wonderful and the first mile, in a beautiful shady forest, ends on a memorial plaque commemorating the place where the hut traveled on honeymoon in 1880 with his new wife, Franny. ”
– Kathie Fowler, Napa
What do you think has changed the state the most since then?
Looking back, it’s amazing to see how much has not changed. Our first various issues were about wildfires. For much of a year, we have focused on homelessness and what the conditions in camps in Oakland look like in the developing world. The distribution of wealth was a constant theme and it apparently only got stronger.
Over the past year, it has been remarkable to see how Californians have come together to fight the pandemic, and it is reassuring to see how well the state is doing now. But it also feels like a lot of problems have only gotten worse. I know people who are considering moving because they do not want to risk losing their home to another fire.
As my colleague Adam Nagourney put it, “The feeling of California exceptionalism – why anyone else would live – is not as strong as it used to be.” And as Conor Dougherty notes, there has been a fair collective recognition over the past few years that the current path is unsustainable and that we need a serious course correction, but as always, there is little agreement on exactly what to do.
You will still help lead California coverage in your new role, but is there anything you want to keep reading about, especially Californians?