John Sutter says goodbye

I sold my newspapers last week.. I found someone who believes in community journalism — its challenges and opportunities — who is willing to buy into the business of producing high-quality, original, local news reporting. The new owner is Jennifer Goodstein, and you will be hearing directly from her in coming weeks.

It’s been a great 13-year run, but it’s time for me to step down and explore some other interests. It was surely the best job that I ever had.

What extraordinary communities to write for! No shortage of debate, dissension, volatility, creativity. Overflowing with big and small stories, colorful characters, and sharp local opinion.

I relished the mission, which was to try to write honestly, independently, fairly and forcefully, about events that have meaning in the lives of individuals and families in our neighborhoods.

I have lots of thanks to pass around. First I thank my family for putting up with more than 2,000 deadlines. They have watched me leave vacations early, or be on the computer during evening time together, or scream for them to quiet down as I tried to concentrate on finishing up a late-night editorial. They supported me, or at least tolerated me, throughout this entire journey. I love them dearly and owe them everything.

And what a staff at Community Media! If they were in this for the money they would be elsewhere. They believe in the mission and work their hearts out to produce comprehensive and fair local news, week in and week out.

And to our loyal readers, where would we be without you? We were always proud to boast that you were at the top of any scale of political and cultural sophistication, and that you knew good writing. We did our best to provide you every week with local news that you can trust, both in print and online.

I have agreed to stay on as Publisher Emeritus. I want to do everything I can to ensure a smooth transition to the new leadership, and the success of these newspapers and Web sites. I believe that our communities are enriched when there is a vital local press where stories are covered fairly, where issues can be vetted in some depth, and where the paper has a strong editorial voice.

I will no longer be leading that editorial voice. I actually look forward to being a reader, and perhaps not even having an opinion on an issue. I would love to be able to say, “It’s six of one, half a dozen of the other,” an approach I never permitted in an editorial.

But you can bet I will get worked up by certain stories. After all, I too live in the community, shop here, breathe the air, hear the jackhammering, ride my bike, send my kids to school, visit art galleries, etc. My life is Downtown, embedded in local, deeply local, patterns and rituals.

And I look forward, maybe more than ever, to reading my hometown papers in the big city.

–  John W. Sutter

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