By Mike Rhodes
In a surprising turn of events, I have ended up (at least for this month) as the editor of the Community Alliance newspaper. This happened, after a two-month transition period, when Chip Ashley (our new editor) called me in early January and said he was not going to continue. Chip had always said that he was not sure that he could do the job, but I had come to believe that things were going OK and that he would continue on with the work for the foreseeable future. It just goes to show how wrong you can be.
In a series of emergency meetings, the staff and volunteers of this newspaper agreed that I should edit the February newspaper, while we search for a new editor. Because I had been editor for the previous 15 years, that made sense. For details about this job, see the house ad for a new editor on page 2. If you are interested, or know someone else who would make a good editor for a great little community newspaper, let us know right away.
For the right person, this job opportunity is the chance of a lifetime to work at a newspaper that is making a difference in the world. The Community Alliance often features stories that no other local publication will touch, let alone print. For example, our series of articles on homelessness in Fresno has changed public policy. The series treated the homeless with the dignity and respect all people deserve and exposed the City of Fresno’s cruel bulldozing of the encampments.
Our special section last June exposed the outrageous practice by the Fresno County Jail staff of taking medications prescribed by doctors from inmates with mental health issues. This policy resulted in ruined lives and the disruption of the court system, but our expose resulted in a reevaluation and changes in this practice.
For the last several months, we have featured stories about the inability of indigent inmates to get adequate legal representation because of cuts made to the Public Defender’s Office. We will continue shining a light on this problem until everyone accused of a crime, whether rich or poor, has an attorney that will represent their interests.
The Community Alliance is not only a crusading muckraking local paper, but we are also on a mission to build a progressive movement for social and economic justice. If you believe in those values, have experience as a journalist, and want a challenging and more meaningful job—then we have a place for you.
All of this drama has been going on in the background as we completed our most successful fund-raising drive ever. We have you, our readers, to thank for that. With your generous support, we have raised enough money so we are not in the awkward position of having to ask our next editor to do this job as a volunteer. We now have enough money in the bank to pay our new editor. I know that some of you are thinking that paying a grassroots community journalist is unheard of in this day and age—someone even called it an oxymoron, but that is exactly what we intend to do.
As part of the transition of my leaving and hiring a new editor, we have organized a farewell dinner, which I hope you will attend. This event will take place on Feb. 15 at 5:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church (2672 E. Alluvial Ave., Fresno). We are extremely lucky to have music by the talented singer Merlinda Espinosa. If you have not heard her before, you should come just to enjoy her performance. This will also be a dinner and fund-raiser for the Community Alliance. Tickets are $35 and are available at the Fresno Center for Nonviolence (1584 N. Van Ness Ave.), from Community Alliance Editorial Board members and at the door.
It is our hope that by the time of this farewell dinner I will be able to say goodbye and introduce our new editor. I would love to see as many of our readers and supporters as possible for a great evening of music, food and celebration of alternative/independent media in Fresno.