Thank you to Melinda Welsh

Jeff vonKaenel

We were three months away from our first issue, and we had no office, so the first SN&R meeting was held at my kitchen table in January 1989. There, a small group sat around discussing our plans for creating Sacramento’s new alternative weekly. One of the people at that table was Melinda Welsh.

At that first meeting in 1989, I said I was sure that we would be successful, just as we had been successful in Chico. But I also said, “When we are successful, people will ask about my plan. But I don’t have a plan. I just believe that the people around this table can figure it out.”

For 23 years, Melinda has been doing just that. Starting with the very first issue, Melinda defined our relationship with Sacramento as “tough love.” While The Sacramento Bee at that time seemed to be more interested in the Bay Area, we would focus our spotlight on Sacramento.

And while others would only see our town as a midpoint between San Francisco and Tahoe, we believed in Sacramento. We cared for our city’s music, theater and art scenes, and we wanted to make sure the many diverse voices of our town could be heard.

There are many different kinds of publications, and there are many different kinds of alternative weeklies. Melinda created a paper that nourished and challenged our community by believing it could be better. Over the last 23 years, Sacramento’s music and art scenes have dramatically grown, Midtown came into being, the city politics are no longer dominated by a small group of insiders, the diversity of our town is celebrated, and there is a much greater and well-deserved pride in our city.

Over two decades, Melinda focused the “tough love” spotlight on our community. I believe that this spotlight helped create positive change. And the love was not only directed toward our community, it has been directed toward all of us who have been lucky enough to work with Melinda. She has made all of us better. She made her staff better writers. And she helped make many of us at the paper better people.

This is her final issue as SN&R’s editor. She is leaving the editor’s position to work on special projects. Replacing her will be Nick Miller and Rachel Leibrock, our new co-editors.

There are good colleagues who, when they move on, are missed. And there a few, a very few, whose impact is so significant and so sustaining that it defines the organization. Melinda has in so many ways defined us here at the paper. We are so lucky and so grateful that she was at the table that day in 1989. And we are so lucky that she continued to sit at the table with us for 23 years.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.