FIFTH STREET — Former Santa Monica Daily Press staff writer Ashley Archibald here, with some parting thoughts.
As some of you know, Friday marked my last day with the paper as I embark on what I hope will be wild adventures in the world of higher education.
Two and a half years ago, I came down to Santa Monica in my 1998 Toyota Corolla from a small, rural community in Northern California where I’d spent the last year covering the cops, courts, city and fire beats.
I was a former intern coming back to the mothership, and ready (I thought) to take on reporting in a bustling, urban environment.
My first story was something of a departure from my previous experience — a hard-hitting piece on the largest speed dating event in the history of the world, which took place on a 213-foot red leather couch loaned parked on the Third Street Promenade.
I can’t even say that was the strangest topic I’ve covered for the Daily Press (the attempted circumcision ban of 2011 and associated Foreskin Man comic books comes to mind).
Pushing forward, I would come across tensions over development, school fundraising and concerns about the health impacts of Santa Monica Airport. An election season, with all of the associated drama, would come and go.
Two hotels battling over a redevelopment and expansion would begin a cold war that many would say led to the overthrow of the leadership of an entrenched neighborhood group while allegations of money laundering hung like a cloud over the issue.
Malibu residents would take a stand and fight to separate from the local school district, and an internal battle over chocolate milk in schools would require long hours in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s office on 16th Street.
The breadth of coverage reflects less upon my journalistic tendencies and more on the vibrance and vitality of this community.
I studied journalism and international relations at the University of Southern California, and happened to fall in with the Trojan Marching Band while I was there. It’s easily one of the most spirited organizations on the planet, 300-plus people utterly devoted to their school and willing to put their time and sanity on the line to show it.
I felt the same passion from Santa Monica residents, and those that I worked with on school issues in Malibu.
The reaction to news of my imminent departure has been humbling. I’m not sure how I tricked you all — I feel like I just showed up, which is what I’ve seen this community do time and time again because that’s what you believe will make this town a better place.
How cool is that?
Furthermore, any measure of success that I have attained in this position has come in part from the people around me.
The Daily Press staff is an incredible bunch, from the sales staff headed up by Rob Schwenker that make it possible for us to put out a free daily to our publisher Ross Furukawa who understands and respects the strict divide between editorial and advertising and our production manager, Darren Ouellette, who puts this beast together every day.
It’s a rare combination in today’s rapidly changing journalism scene.
Finally, and most importantly, Editor-in-Chief Kevin Herrera and Managing Editor Daniel Archuleta have my deepest respect and thanks for the amazing work that they do day in and day out to make this newspaper a success.
Their Santa Monica expertise and guidance were invaluable to me, as was their trust when their wonky reporter showed up with some crazy story idea.
Thank you, to the entire team.
So, without getting too terribly long-winded, good-bye, Santa Monica, it’s been real.
And if you think I won’t be tuning in from NorCal to catch some late night City Council action, you didn’t know me well enough.