This is not an obituary

This is what I wrote for the final print edition of my students’ newspaper, which landed on newsstands May 9 at Sacramento City College. So proud of the editors and staffers who worked very hard to make the final 24 pages truly beautiful ones.

express cover REDO

You are holding in your hands the last printed Express newspaper at Sacramento City College.

As one of a couple dozen advisers of the paper since its beginnings as The Blotter in 1922, I have to say that this is a bittersweet moment. The paper itself is not ending; in fact, it’s thriving with new content every day of the academic year at But it’s time to bring a close to its monthly existence on newsprint. Beginning in the fall semester the Express will be a completely online publication.

This reminds me of another important moment in the paper’s history, when Ginny McReynolds was hired in 1986 to replace longtime journalism instructor and adviser Jean (“Doc”) Stephens, who was retiring. The story has become part of our history: Jean made no secret of the fact that she didn’t want to have to deal with computers, which were very much becoming a part of newspapers. So it was Ginny who ushered in the first small Macintosh computers into the Express lab, and she and her students set about learning the new technology to put out the paper.

“When I came here in 1986, I was extremely grateful to have been chosen for the job and I was nervous,” recalls Ginny, who is currently associate vice president of instructional services at City College. “My whole first staff of editors had been Jean’s students, and it wasn’t an easy transition for any of us. But, before long, we formed our own team, and Jean was very helpful and supportive of my work.”

Ginny also notes that as the program transitioned to using computers, she had “enormous help from people who actually knew what they were doing. Over the years, all of that has changed a number of times, but it has always been a kind of ‘each one, teach one’ situation. Without very savvy tech-savvy colleagues and students, I would never have been able to facilitate that!”

My journalism colleague Dianne Heimer also oversaw a major technological shift when she advised the paper—creating an online version of the Express as with the new century in 2000. Dianne, who is retiring this month, brought the paper into the digital age.

Randy Ravenstorm in lab

Ravenstorm Labarcon, design adviser, works on the final print issue of the Express.

None of this would have been possible without thousands of dedicated students, who, since 1922, have made up the staffs of The Blotter, the Pony Express and the Express. We have included the names of as many of those former staffers as we could find in our staff box on these pages.

The goal of the journalism department has not changed since the days of the first newspapers on campus: to educate students in the skills and ethics of journalism so that they can continue their educations in the field, if they choose, or go to work as professional communicators. Many have done both. We are proud to point to Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Ron Edmonds, who was a photographer on the Express in 1968.

But we are equally proud of young journalists who did outstanding work while reporting and photographing for the Express.

When a student was shot and killed on campus Sept. 3, 2015, Express editor-in-chief Kris Hooks and news editor Vienna Montague immediately went to work. Most of the immediate coverage was put up instantly on the Express’ social media platforms and on our website. Local news outlets were following our reporting that day. Our Express editors put up stories first online and then decide which stories to include in the monthly print editions, from the coverage of the reaction to the death of former City College student Stephon Clark and decision this year not to prosecute the city police officers who shot and killed him.

As we’ve been looking at the end of the printed editions of the Express, I’ve struggled for ways to write about this. One of my former writing students, Dawn Orosco, put it this way in the final stanza of a poetic tribute to print newspapers:

But still, this is not an obituary —
newspapers will never die
They will always be held;
they will always be opened —
forever recycled
in my bank of memory.

old new expresses

Expresses 1981 and 2019 (Photo by Randy Allen)

It’s been a great run on newsprint, and we are grateful for the support of literally thousands of (before 1959) Sacramento Junior College and (after 1959) Sacramento City College students, faculty, staff and administrators who have read (and sometimes railed at) the Express. The paper has been an ongoing practice in democracy and the First Amendment—not without disagreement and challenges—but it has largely succeeded as the voice of students reporting on other students and their college experience.

Here’s to many more years as that student voice, in whatever form of delivery is appropriate to the changing times. In the meantime, the Express will still be going strong each academic year at www.saccityexpress. We hope you’ll continue the journey with us.

Jan Haag and Randy Allen
Express advisers, spring 2019

Randy editors deliver

Photo adviser Randy Allen commemorates the delivery May 9, 2019, of the final print edition of the Express newspaper at Sacramento City College by its staff (from left, Danielle McKinney, Rose Vega, Ravenstorm Labarcon and Luan Nguyen).

About janishaag

Writer, writing coach, editor
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5 Responses to This is not an obituary

  1. janet johnston says:

    Wow, Jan. What a run! You must be so proud of your colleagues and students and I hope for yourself, too!



  2. Connie Raub says:

    It’s seems appropriate that on Mother’s Day you write about giving birth to the latest revision of the Sac City “newspaper”. You have successfully taught a host of students to be Güd wrtrs! Congratulations! My mother, sister and I all attended Sacramento Jr. College/City College and read the Blotter and the Pony Express. May it continue to reinvent itself while upholding the values of a free press.

  3. Dick Tracy says:

    The turning of the page… DT

  4. Hilary A says:

    Chills. Real chills. Good work to all, but especially to you!

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