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Hello, Uptown

Posted: February 9th, 2018 | Editor, Featured, Opinion | 3 Comments

Sara Butler | Editor

Though I can’t offer a physical handshake through these pages, I’d like to use this space to formally introduce myself.

I could simply say that my name is Sara Butler and I’m the new editor of San Diego Uptown News, but one of my goals in this new role is to get to know you — the readers and residents of Uptown — on a more personal level, so I thought I’d share a little more about who I am.

Sara Butler (Photo by Connor McBride)

Born and raised in San Diego, I spent my younger years running around East County, specifically Spring Valley, Rancho San Diego and La Mesa. Growing up, my parents enrolled me in everything under the sun: ballet lessons, karate classes, art courses … you name it. Yet at the end of each exhausting theater practice or basketball game, I found my sanctuary tucked away in my room, armed with a pen and an ample supply of blank pages ahead of me.

After 13 years of below-average math scores and A+ essays, I graduated Steele Canyon High School in 2012. From there, I secured a spot at the University of San Diego and took up residence in the Linda Vista/Morena area.

Much to my dismay, my new educational hub didn’t offer a major in journalism; instead, I chose the Communication Studies route and found my home on campus in the office of my college newspaper, The Vista. I held various writer, editor and other leadership roles during my four years at USD, covering stories ranging from a feature on the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, to an in-depth investigation of sorority hazing incidents.

I credit Gina Lew — The Vista’s student media advisor — for showing me the ropes of journalism. With a background as a local broadcast journalist, Gina is fiery and unapologetic; and expresses conviction and compassion toward the subjects of her stories, as well as the students in her classes.

Gina served as my journalism mentor for those four years, drilling AP Style and nut graphs into my head, as well as coaching me on how to track down sources and effective storytelling. Most importantly, she helped a timid freshman grow a thick skin that was still permeable to constructive criticism and community feedback, a must-have trait in this industry.

Against Gina’s hopes, post-graduation I strayed from newspapers to pursue magazine writing, landing a job at a local digital magazine start-up. While our office was tucked away in Middletown, the internet made us limitless. With an international reach, our online-only platform was fast-paced, always morphing and never boring (especially during the November 2016 election).

Yet six months in, I yearned for a print newsroom again, with its smell of fresh ink and the sound of community stories.

In January 2017, I stumbled upon a job at a local newspaper company, San Diego Community News Network (SDCNN), which publishes San Diego Downtown News, San Diego Uptown News, Mission Valley News, Mission Times Courier, La Mesa Courier and Gay San Diego.

Armed with my Communication Studies degree, I was hired on by publisher David Mannis as the Web and Social Media Manager. In this role, I was responsible for maintaining and growing the digital presence of our six publications.

For a year, I focused my attention on expanding our reach online and engaging with our readers through social media. Yet the need to write still ached in my wrists.

I was encouraged to pitch and pick up stories by SDCNN’s three more seasoned editors: Morgan Hurley, Jeff Clemetson and Ken Williams. In addition to writing calendars and news briefs each week, I also wrote several articles for three of the papers.

When SDCNN brought back Mission Valley News after a short hiatus in November 2017, I was appointed the paper’s new editor. Under the guidance of the other editors, I managed my own 16-page paper for the first time. During that three-month run, I had the chance to write and edit stories in the community where our SDCNN office is currently located and that I previously called home back in college.

When Ken Williams announced his retirement as editor of San Diego Uptown News in January 2018, I was offered the opportunity to follow in his footsteps. I was ecstatic, but admittedly a bit nervous; for as all of you loyal readers know, Ken has left some huge shoes to fill.

I’ll never forget his favorite phrase: “Humanize, humanize, humanize.” He has always emphasized that every story has a human-angle, and honing in on that element will tell a great story and engage readers.

Before he left, Ken told me he hoped those three words would be his legacy, and I intend to keep that alive within these pages.

I am also excited to bring my own spin to the paper with my personal talents, interests and experiences as a local millennial who still prefers print newspapers to the Apple News iPhone app.

I currently live in North Park and spend my weekends bouncing around the Uptown neighborhoods exploring our communities’ local coffee shops, vinyl stores and breweries.

I’ll soon be making my rounds in the Uptown area, attending planning group,  business improvement district and various other local meetings, as well as social gatherings and other community events.

I encourage each of you to reach out through phone or email. I want to get to know as many of you as I can, as well as share in the issues and triumphs within our neighborhoods that mean the most to you.

— Sara Butler is the editor of San Diego Uptown News. Reach her at sara@sdcnn.com or 619-961-1968.

3 Comments

  1. Benny says:

    Welcome, Sara!!! I so look forward to meeting you, and watching you continue to grow this great paper! When I was a staff reporter for Ken at SDGLN.com, he always told me the same thing that you mentioned he told you: “Humanize, humanize, humanize.” I always remembered this and it greatly improved my writing work!

  2. Luke Terpstra says:

    Hi Sara,

    Welcome to your new position as Editor. Yes Ken did a great job and was always available and approachable in the Uptown. Now it’s your turn, we are all looking forward to more great coverage as the community continues to thrive and grow here on the top of the hill.

    Again Welcome, and best regards for your work ahead,

    Keep in touch,

    Luke Terpstra

    Chair Emeritus, Hillcrest Town Council,
    Member Board Of Directors, San Diego Pride.
    Member UC San Diego Hillcrest Hospital Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) Advisory Council.

  3. Rock On, Sara – I know your folks from the music scene, and live in North Park, as well! I’m an old photographer (accent on OLD!), I’m open to shoot occasional low-impact photography, if your ever need a stringer – you can find samples in fb, and if ya look real close you can probably spot your Mom & Dad somewhere in the archives!
    Best of Luck!

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