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Good changes coming to the COURIER

by Mick Rhodes | editor@claremont-courier.com

Good morning COURIER readers. It’s my honor and pleasure to write to you today, for the first time, from the editor’s desk.

COURIER publisher and former editor Peter Weinberger has entrusted the reins to me, and I want to take this moment to introduce myself to those unfamiliar.

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I’ve been with the COURIER for nearly seven years. Over that time I’ve written birth announcements and obituaries, covered local schools, written the Police Blotter, done deep-dive investigative pieces, countless feature stories on the arts and entertainment, and been lucky enough to have penned dozens of columns.

Some of that work has, at times, put me at odds with my subjects; conflict is unavoidable in life, and in journalism.

But I’ve offered a fair shake to everyone I’ve ever written about. And that’s the approach I will adhere to as I guide the editorial content of the COURIER into this new era.

We will continue to lift up both every day Claremonters and, when appropriate, those in positions of power, and celebrate their triumphs and service to the community. The COURIER is indeed a cheerleader for this sweet little town.

And the reason I can say that without wincing is I also take pride in our other role, as watchdog. Under my stewardship, the COURIER will continue to shine light on arrogance and hypocrisy. We are in the business of showing taxpayers where their money is being spent, on whom or what, and just who those purse-string holders are.

But no matter what we’re covering, the resultant journalism will be fair, accurate, and balanced. We won’t pick fights, ever. But we won’t shy away from them either.

There will be small changes — little tweaks to the paper’s design, a couple of new style choices — but these will be mostly journalism geek stuff.

Among the changes readers will notice will be a widening of our lens.

Being an older white man, I can tell you from experience it’s imperative COURIER readers get their news from perspectives other than my own. My four kids are forever reminding me of just how narrow — and, yes, sometimes biased — my viewpoint can be. But for me it can be refreshing to feel out of touch on an issue, because that’s where learning happens.

Because of this, I am committed to bring more diversity to our newsroom, and over the summer will hire a new reporter who will offer fresh perspectives for our readers.

I’m also committed to doing a better job of covering the whole city. I’d like to read more about south Claremont, and not just in the Police Blotter. For example, I know human trafficking is a thing that is happening along the 10 Freeway/Indian Hill Blvd. corridor, but why? Let’s crack this open. We’ll dig into more issues like this under my watch. I want readers to know not just what is happening, but the underlying reasons.

We will also see more coverage of the arts in our community. One of our as-of-yet frequently untapped resources in this area are the Claremont Colleges, which bring world-class artists, writers, filmmakers, thinkers and political power players to town on a regular basis, often under the radar of most COURIER readers. This will change.

Among the things that will not change is the COURIER’s dogged and comprehensive coverage of city politics and land use issues. We have a duty to dig into these matters, from all sides. I take that responsibility quite seriously, and will endeavor to expand on this coverage going forward.

One of the really fortunate aspects of this job is we get to write about Claremont’s fascinatingly impactful, wide-ranging populace. There’s nary an issue we can’t connect to our city; did you know law professor John Eastman, who was a close advisor to former President Trump and is now a key player in the House of Representatives’ Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, is a senior fellow for the conservative think tank Claremont Institute? This is one example off the top of my head of how we can localize national stories. We’ll be doing more of this going forward. I want our writers to feel empowered to think big.

I am eager to begin this new chapter in my career. I’m grateful, and again honored, for the opportunity to steward the editorial content as the seventh editor of the venerable, 114-year-old Claremont COURIER.

I’ll be spending some long hours at my desk getting my footing, but I’ll get there. I’ve been lucky to have worked for some fantastic editors over the years — some of whom I still hear in my head, guiding me as I write this sentence — and they will no doubt be consulted as I embark on this journey.

I will stumble. I will make mistakes. I will likely make you angry once in a while. Again, that’s life, and that’s journalism. I know I don’t have to tell our readers that letters to the editor are always welcome here at the COURIER.

In the meantime, I want to hear from you. I want to know what you’re passionate about, because passionate people tell great stories, and that’s what it’s all about.

Thank you for your trust.

Onward.

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