FREE PRESS — Tim Crews, editor and publisher of a small community newspaper in Glenn County and a member of the board of directors of Californians Aware, was named the California Press Association's Newspaper Executive of the Year at an awards dinner at the Marines Memorial in San Francisco this past Friday. Recipients are publishers, editors-in-chief or equivalents who have
involved themselves in the directions of the editorial and news side of
their newspapers by showing exceptional editorial achievement. In Crews' case, the award was for his journalism in creating and maintaining "California's most courageous newspaper."
As reported in the CNPA Bulletin of the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the presentation read:
Crews, editor and publisher of the twice weekly Sacramento Valley
Mirror, continues, at 65 years old, to edit and publish California's
most courageous newspaper.
Whether they know him or not, he is
clearly owed a great debt of gratitude by his publishing peers, all of
whom benefit greatly in our state from his unremitting insistence on
transparency of government activities. He backs up that eternal
vigilance with a willingness to pursue through every legal means the
public's access to records, opening doors to government meetings, and
the firm resistance to revealing confidential sources even if it means
going to jail for his beliefs.
His newspaper, which covers a
multi-county area of the north Sacramento valley's rural heartland, is
a "must read" for thousands of residents and every single public
employee and elected official. It covers the local scene in extreme
detail augmented by columns of provocative opinion including his own
fiery editorials. He still finds time to write much of the paper's hard
news stories, take pictures, sell advertising, and tend to the many
aspects of successfully running a complex venture on a virtual
Tim Crews had many years of newspaper experience in
the north valley before starting the Mirror in 1991. Since then his
paper has gone on to win three times CNPA's annual Freedom of
Information award and first place for investigative reporting in CNPA
contests. He is the recipient of the Hofstra University Francis Frost
Wood Award for Courage in Journalism and the California Society of
Newspaper Editors' Bill Farr award.
Crews served five days in
jail in 2000 for refusing to disclose the source of an embarrassing
story of a gun stolen by a police officer. He wrote up that experience
in a searing indictment of rural jails.
His crusades on behalf
of the public continued in 2009 with additional victories in court
which pried loose documents and revealed hidden actions. To date his
aggressive willingness to use the California Public Records Act and the
Ralph M. Brown open meetings law has resulted in many hundreds of
thousands of dollars paid in awards. He has never lost a legal
His tiny, hardworking staff, including dedicated
interns from Stanford University, to this day publishes a newspaper
that exemplifies the great traditions of a free press as embodied in a
motivated, courageous editor-publisher. To accomplish this goal in a
rural area with powerful entrenched economic interests, a hide-bound
local government establishment and a strong conservative political
tradition is a significant achievement.
Tim Crews well deserves
acclaim as the Justus F. Craemer 2009 Newspaper Executive of the Year.
He joins 44 other California newspaper executives who have received the
award since 1967.
A personal note, admittedly from a longtime friend. Crews is a journalist
- who routinely, personally and vigorously attacks local governmental secrecy, corruption and dysfunctionand who just as routinely uses the sunshine laws in the courts to do it;
- whose pages are a true "mirror"and a compassionate oneof a poor valley community and its abused and neglected wretched of the earth as well as its happier moments;
- who has used the newspaper relentlessly to crusade against miscarriages of justice, including most recently the botched investigation of a conspicuous homicide;
- who has gone to jail to protect vulnerable unnamed sources; and
- who has personally paid the price of his audacity in repeated criminal attempts on his property and his life.
The award is in a way also a tribute to the California Press Association in expanding its gallery of notables to include a fighting newspaperman in the sense that would be instantly recognized in any place, in any language and in any era since the word has had any meaning.