Indy Digest: April 27, 2023
As of this writing, the lead story on the home page of The Californian, the Gannett-owned newspaper in Salinas, is a USA Today piece on the NFL draft.
Weird lead story for a local newspaper, right? Well, it’s not weird for The Californian, which is printed three days a week. If you keep looking at the newspaper’s homepage, you’ll find exactly zero locally produced stories on the homepage.
Nope, not a single one. There is one opinion piece with a local angle—and that’s it for Salinas coverage on the homepage. And there’s a reason for this: The Californian has exactly zero reporters.
Nope, not a single one.
If you’re not familiar with Salinas … well, it’s not exactly a small town. It has a population of 162,000, and its metro area—which includes Monterey—has 437,000 people. That’s roughly the population of the Coachella Valley.
Let me repeat what I’ve just said, in a different way: The Californian, owned by the same company that owns The Desert Sun, has ZERO REPORTERS in its coverage area, which is roughly the size of The Desert Sun’s coverage area, population-wise.
The Los Angeles Times did a fantastic story on The Californian’s plight last month. Reporter James Rainey starts the piece by mentioning some big recent Salinas happenings—flooding, a city election and a police staffing shortage.
The Salinas Californian missed those stories, understandably, because it employed only one journalist until December. That’s when the paper’s last reporter quit to take a job in TV. The departure marked the latest and perhaps final step in a slow-motion unwinding of what used to be the principal local news source in this city of 163,000.
Owned by the largest newspaper publisher in the nation, Gannett, the venerable Californian now carries stories from the chain’s USA Today flagship and its other California papers. The only original content from Salinas comes in the form of paid obituaries, making death virtually the only sign of life at an institution once considered a must-read by many Salinans.
Wow. Just … wow.
You may be asking yourself: Is The Californian looking to hire? Is that one reporter going to be replaced, at the very freaking least? Rainey writes: “The company’s corporate PR office acknowledged ‘staffing challenges in certain newsrooms’ but pledged that Gannett is ‘developing strategies to support these markets, including communities such as Salinas’ None of the 57 reporting jobs recently listed on the chain’s online hiring board were for work in Salinas.”
I just went and checked that job board to see if things have perhaps changed since the Los Angeles Times published this piece in late March. Nope: There are no jobs for Salinas listed. (There are two listed in Palm Springs: A sales position, and The Desert Sun’s news editor position.)
This is appalling. The state of The Californian shows that Gannett does not care one bit about local news and the communities it serves. Not one bit.
Support the Independent!
This seems like a good time and place to mention how important it is to support independent local news sources—like, well, the Independent. We’re here. We are in the community. We actually invest in things like, well, staff and contributors, unlike certain mega-corporations in certain cities. Please click the button below to support the Coachella Valley Independent. Thanks!
From the Independent
The Plaza Theatre’s Next Act: Before Renovations Begin, the Downtown Palm Springs Landmark Is Hosting Weekly Tuesday-Night Open Houses
By Matt King
April 27th, 2023
Before renovations begin in earnest this summer, the Plaza Theatre is open every Tuesday evening from 7 to 8 p.m., through Tuesday, June 6, for a series of open houses that Palm Springs Plaza Theatre Foundation board president J.R. Roberts is calling “Next Act.”
Restaurant News Bites: It’s Time for the Farmers’ Market Shuffle; Introducing the Weenee Roadhouse; and More!
By Charles Drabkin
April 26th, 2023
The latest local restaurant news, including food offerings at the Spa at Séc-he; new Mexican in La Quinta; and more.
Coachella 2023: Festival-Goers Miss Bands and Experiences While Waiting Up to Four Hours—or Longer—in Line for Shirts and Souvenirs
By Matt King
April 25th, 2023
While many festival-goers are enjoying the music and art, a whole lot of other attendees are skipping both—and instead spending hours in the Coachella merch tent.
The Lucky 13: Jose Zavala, aka Nocontinues
By Matt King
April 27th, 2023
Get to better know Jose Zavala, aka instrumental music artist Nocontinues.
The Weekly Independent Comics Page for April 27, 2023!
April 27th, 2023
Topics touched upon this week include manly beer, meatpacking plants, dissent, poor customer service—and much more!
• An update on the situation with the Montana Legislature and the transgender lawmaker who “dared” to participate in a protest, from The New York Times: “As Montana lawmakers entered the critical final days of their legislative session on Thursday, one of the state’s two transgender lawmakers, Zooey Zephyr, was left exiled from the House chamber, monitoring the debate and casting votes on a laptop as she sat on a hallway bench near a bustling snack stand. Ms. Zephyr has vowed to continue working to represent her constituents, even though Republican lawmakers have moved to punish her for impassioned comments she made on the House floor about a proposed ban on gender-affirming medical care for children. … The House’s Republican leadership initially responded by refusing to recognize Ms. Zephyr in floor discussions. Then on Wednesday, citing violations of decorum, Republicans voted to ban her from the chamber for the rest of the session, which is scheduled to end next week.”
• Meanwhile, in Florida, lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis have made it easier to impose the death penalty. Also from The New York Times: “Florida will become the state with the lowest threshold for imposing the death penalty under a law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday, which will allow juries to recommend capital punishment without a unanimous vote. The change, which will allow juries to recommend a death sentence with an 8-to-4 vote, was prompted by a Florida jury’s decision last year to sentence to life in prison without parole the gunman who murdered 17 people in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The jury had voted 9 to 3 in favor of the death penalty in that case, but the judge could not impose it unless every juror had voted in favor.”
• Yet another U.S. Supreme Court justice is facing scrutiny because of a fishy-looking financial matter. Politico reports: “For nearly two years beginning in 2015, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch sought a buyer for a 40-acre tract of property he co-owned in rural Granby, Colo. Nine days after he was confirmed by the Senate for a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court, the then-circuit court judge got one: The chief executive of Greenberg Traurig, one of the nation’s biggest law firms with a robust practice before the high court. Gorsuch owned the property with two other individuals.” Sigh.
• The Los Angeles Times looks at a study showing how well California downtowns are recovering—or not recovering—post-pandemic: “San Diego has bounced back to 99% of previous foot traffic levels while Los Angeles is at 65%, according to a study by the School of Cities at the University of Toronto that recorded foot traffic based on cellphone data in 62 North American cities from 2019 to November 2022. San Francisco remained at only 31% of pre-pandemic levels. Each of California’s largest downtowns has rebounded differently. San Diego was more reliant on tourism and residential development, which helped its recovery. San Francisco, on the other hand, was far more dependent on office workers and has suffered from companies shifting to remote work. The lack of commuter traffic has also devastated that downtown’s retail life. San Francisco leaders have been working to turn things around and prevent what some experts have described as a potential ‘doom loop.’”
• The Palm Springs Post reports on the handful of prominent Palm Springs figures who have expressed interest in being appointed to the College of the Desert Board of Trustees: “In emails Monday morning, both Al Jones and David Powell, who have long histories of public service in the city, said they intend to apply for the vacancy created after Area 3 trustee Fred Jandt stepped down due to health reasons. Their announcement followed that of former Mayor Ron Oden, who said last week he intends to seek the seat. COD’s remaining trustees elected on April 21 to replace Jandt by appointment rather than holding a special election. Jones, who currently serves as the president of the Palm Springs Sister City Board of Directors, spent 45 years as a higher education administrator, including time as an assistant chancellor for the California State University system. … Powell is currently the executive director of Desert Business Association, which serves as the Coachella Valley’s LGBTQ chamber of commerce.”
• The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus is promising quite a show at three performances this weekend. From a news release: “‘Notorious!’ The leading ladies who rock our worlds. Those unforgettable divas who make Broadway shows so irresistible. These are the characters we celebrate for our April 28-30 concert at the Palm Springs Art Museum Annenberg Theater. From Eva Perón to Agatha Hannigan to Dolly Levi to Ursula from The Little Mermaid. You’ll enjoy songs from Mamma Mia, Hairspray, Company, Wicked, and much, much more! Come see this incredible program with the best scores from Broadway, film and TV. We’ve invited the incomparable Tony nominated Broadway star and cabaret legend Sharon McNight to join the chorus for this unforgettable concert. Nickerson-Rossi Dance is back for this concert as the official choreographer to PSGMC.” Learn more at psgmc.com.
• And finally … as a fan of tequila, I don’t like this story, from CBS News, one bit: “Mexican Navy inspectors intercepted 11,520 tequila bottles bound for export that actually contained nearly 10 tons of concentrated liquid meth, the Navy said Monday. The discovery was made over the weekend at the Pacific coast seaport of Manzanillo, the Navy said. It said the bottles contained approximately 8,640 kilograms (about 19,000 pounds) of meth. Photos of the seizure show a dog alerting inspectors to cardboard boxes of glass bottles full of a brownish liquid, consistent with the color of ‘añejo,’ or aged tequila.”
Updated to correct a reference to the county where Salinas is located.