Letter from the Editor: The worst of times brings out the best in us

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By Norb Garrett, Owner and Publisher of Picket Fence Media

In life, relationships, business, and sports, we are often reminded that you learn the most about yourself and others during the darker times rather than the brightest.

That sentiment couldn’t be more appropriate when we describe our entire team here at Picket Fence Media and our staff at Dana Point schedule, San Clemente schedule and The Capistrano Dispatch and how they accelerated in 2020 in the face of significant challenges.

At the onset of the pandemic and the first lockdown in March 2020, I made a commitment to all of our staff to do all we can to ensure that no one is losing their jobs due to the pandemic.

As a team, we understood the challenge ahead, as well as our responsibilities to our communities who depend on us for original and local reporting. Things would be different, because we would each work from home, isolated, but never alone.

All team members took on additional responsibilities, as journalists were seen as essential workers, essential in keeping the flow of information to the public. Our reporters risked the unknown, venturing to report the news wearing the protection the latest CDC and state guidelines demanded.

The summer of racial and social unrest, coupled with a controversial presidential election in the fall, added to the challenges of COVID-19, meaning that 2020 would indeed be unprecedented in its complexity.

Unsurprisingly, our team has responded in a big way, coordinating with our communities while launching daily COVID updates, new daily email newsletters, and expanding our social and digital media efforts. We haven’t canceled a single print edition despite the need to find a new printer after our 14-year-old succumbed to economic pressures caused by the pandemic.

Fittingly, our team has been recognized for their efforts with a record 10 California Journalism Awards from the California News Publishers Association (CNPA):

FIRST PLACE (1)

Home Page Layout and Design — Print

Dana Point Times—Lillian Boyd, Chelsie Rex

SECOND PLACE (4)

Featured Sports Article – Print

The Capistrano Dispatch—Zach Cavanagh, “Fighting the Fire: Fighting Rare Neuropathy, San Juan Hills Efstathiou Coaches with a New Perspective”

Racial justice protests and photo coverage — Print

Dana Point Times—Lillian Boyd, “The Wheels of Justice”

Lillian Boyd, editor of Dana Point Times City, won a second state journalism award from the California News Publishers Association for her photo of a protester at one of the Black Lives Matter rallies in Dana Point’s last summer.

Youth and Education Coverage — Print

Dana Point schedule“Lillian Boyd, Shawn Raymundo,”Funding of educational institutions: Voters in San Clemente and Dana Point to decide on school bond measures

Coverage of protests and news or reports on racial justice — digital

San Clemente schedule—Shawn Raymundo, “Surfers Paddle for Floyd; Calls for police funding met with opposing voices from local officials ”

THIRD PLACE (1)

General excellence – digital

San Clemente schedule– Shawn Raymundo, San Clemente schedule Staff

FOURTH PLACE (1)

Local Coverage of Election 2020 — Printed

Dana Point schedule—Lillian Boyd, “PAC spends thousands of dollars to oppose local candidate, Newkirk and Frost denounce tactics

FIFTH PLACE (3)

Layout and Interior Page Design — Print (Combined all prints)

San Clemente schedule“Chelsie Rex, Fred Swegles”,Let’s visit the Nixon Library which moved away from San Clemente

Info graphic — Print

The Capistrano dispatch—Chelsie Rex, Zach Cavanagh, San Juan Capistrano COVID Case

Latest News — Digital

Dana Point Times—Lillian Boyd, Zach Cavanagh, “Crews use crane barge to lift iconic tall ship ‘Pilgrim’

I’m incredibly proud of how this team came together in times of crisis and excelled. Please join me in congratulating our wonderful reporters, while all of us here at Picket Fence Media thank you again, our readers, insiders, advertising partners and communities of San Clemente, Dana Point, Capistrano Beach, San Juan Capistrano and Rancho Mission Viejo. for your continued support throughout this difficult year.

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