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Monday was Melissa Corker's first official day as City Hall reporter here at The Sacramento Press. But it may not have seemed that way to her – or even to you.
After all, Melissa has a history with us; she's written a dozen stories for us as an intern after finishing her degree in government journalism at Sacramento State.
But I'd like to officially welcome her to The Sacramento Press staff. She's working this week with our first city hall reporter – our first reporter at all, in fact – Kathleen Haley, who heads to a new life and career in San Francisco. Next week, Melissa's in charge at City Hall.
Of our coverage, that is. And she is going to take charge of the city government beat when city government needs an aggressive press more than ever. We at The Sacramento Press take very seriously the opportunity to watch government, every single day, and to hold it accountable to you.
And we expect to be held accountable, too.
Has there been a time in recent decades when what our local government does – and how our press covers it – affected us more than now? When money gets tight, when jobs are threatened inside and outside of City Hall, when city services can't serve the city... this is the time we need a strong press.
That means that we want to encourage and enable our community to take part in this process, whether it's writing stories, or calling in tips, or pointing out our mistakes or misinterpretations in the conversation below each story.
We are all a part of this story. But as full-time City Hall reporter, Melissa will hold a very special position in that process, and I for one will depend on her for the raw information and nuanced insight that allows me to form opinions. She will do the same for all of us. I have no doubt of that.
Melissa brings a curiosity about process, a passion for city government and an absolutely ferocious attention to detail. She is no-nonsense and direct, but naturally polite. She understands people, and she is disciplined and hard-working.
Some of this life expertise may come from running a household that includes four kids, but we think she was just born that way. In any case, that experience will likely serve her well in covering local politics.
Our coverage is already widely recognized among close observers of city politics to be among the most comprehensive in town. We publish a story about city government virtually every day, often more than one. We cover the stories that are too small for some, not visual enough for others, and a lot of stories that stay interesting once the pack has moved on.
Melissa and our five-person editorial team will continue to build on the fine work that Kathleen has done during her two years with us. Kathleen Haley had a big hand in putting us on the map, and she made us friends (or at least acquaintances) in high places. And she taught me all sorts of obscure governmental arcana I've already forgotten.
She was a pleasure to work with. We will miss her.
And welcome, Melissa Corker.