CVIndependent

Mon12162019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

In the spring of 2013, my friend Shann Carr invited me to brunch.

Shann at the time was the volunteer coordinator at the LGBT Community Center of the Desert, and I was just putting the finishing touches, if memory serves, on the first print edition of the Independent. The brunch—on the patio of the late, lamented Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge—was primarily for Shann’s volunteers, a group of fantastic people Shann thought I should get to know.

At that brunch, Shann introduced me to a music blogger by the name of Brian Blueskye. We chatted a bit, and he expressed interest in doing some freelancing for the Independent.

In the six years since, Brian became the Independent’s first employee (besides myself). He grew as a writer and reporter, winning a national journalism award on his way to becoming the best music journalist in the Coachella Valley. This is the 72nd print edition of the Independent; he’s had multiple bylines 71 of them—all but that very first issue I was finishing up when I met him. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention that he’s become one of my best friends.

Because of all this, Brian’s departure from the Independent is decidedly bittersweet: The Desert Sun has, quite wisely, hired him to be the paper’s new arts and entertainment reporter, on the heels of 40-year veteran Bruce Fessier’s retirement. On one hand, the Independent will deeply miss Brian’s work; he’s been such a vital part of the Independent’s DNA that he can’t be replaced. I also have deep concerns about The Desert Sun’s parent company, Gannett, in terms of both ethics and stability. But on the other hand, I am elated for Brian, because The Desert Sun is compensating him at a level that the Independent right now can not afford—at a level that Brian definitely deserves.

While Brian will be missed within these pages, I am excited about the changes we’re making following his departure. Kevin Fitzgerald, whose byline has been appearing in the Independent for almost as long as Brian’s has, is taking our open staff position. Like Brian, Kevin has a national journalism award to his credit for his work in the Independent. While Brian primarily covered music, Kevin’s focus will be on news and features—meaning the Independent’s news coverage will get a decided boost in both quantity and quality. I am elated to welcome Kevin on board as the Independent’s second-ever employee.

As for music and arts coverage, we’re bringing on some new regular freelancers to fill the void—and trust me, they’re going to do a fantastic job. While we’re still fleshing out these additions (drop me a line if you think you should be one of them), here’s info on two of them: Matt King, at the ripe old age of 17, will be covering music; in fact, his first piece, on The Regrettes, appears in the July print edition on newsstands now, and will be posted here at CVIndependent.com on Monday. Don’t underestimate him because of his age; Matt is an excellent writer and musician who knows the local music scene well. As for our other addition: Watch CVIndependent.com for the Independent debut of Andy Lara, a longtime music and culture writer who’s previously written for the Coachella Valley Arts Scene and LAist.

We’ll have more news on all these exciting changes soon. In the meantime, thanks for reading the Coachella Valley Independent, and be sure to pick up that aforementioned 2019 print edition. Feel free to email me with feedback at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in Editor's Note

As the July print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent hits the streets this week, I have decidedly mixed feelings.

On the good side … I am pretty happy with the issue. One of the news stories inside of it is Kevin Fitzgerald’s update on the legal drama surrounding California’s End of Life Option Act. In recent weeks, the law—which gives terminally ill people with less than six months to live the chance to get life-ending drugs and then use them, if they so choose—was ruled unconstitutional and suspended, before being reinstated on appeal. The ultimate fate of the End of Life Option Act probably won’t be decided for a while—in fact, it probably won’t until the Supreme Court of California gets involved.

Speaking of Kevin’s ongoing coverage of the End of Life Option Act: We just learned that it has won a national award. The Association of Alternative Newsmedia has named Kevin and the Independent as a finalist in the Beat Reporting category for publications with a circulation less than 40,000. This is the second year in a row, and the third time in four years, that the Independent has won an AAN Award—despite the fact that we’re one of the smallest publications in the association. I couldn’t be more proud.

On the not-so-good side … I felt disheartened when I looked over this year’s list of AAN Award finalists—because a whole lot of amazing journalism was done in 2017 by publications that have since been gutted. The Houston Press nabbed eight awards—largely for work done before the owners laid off almost the entire staff and eliminated the print edition after a loss of business due to Hurricane Harvey. LA Weekly won seven—for journalism done before new ownership took over late last year and annihilated the staff.

Meanwhile, here at home, the Independent, like many Coachella Valley businesses, is trudging through the economically slow part of the year. Let me make it clear: We’re on firm financial footing, and we aren’t going anywhere, but that doesn’t mean our figurative financial belts aren’t tighter than we’d like them to be.

Therefore, I am asking all of you brilliant, insightful readers for your financial support. We don’t charge for our content, online or in print; it’s free and open to all, and always will be. That said … great stories—like Kevin’s End of Life Option Act coverage—cost money to produce, edit and publish. So, if you have a buck or two to spare, I ask you to consider heading to our Supporters of the Independent page—or, heck, send us a check. Even $5 or $10 is greatly appreciated.

Whether or not you have that extra buck or two to send our way … as always, thanks for reading, and let me know if you have any feedback.

Published in Editor's Note