fresh-faced Stanford grad running the entire
Independent Journal news operation; now,
60 years later, she’s an immensely popular
bimonthly columnist for the venerable daily.
“Looking back, I was just a kid,” she says, “but
the paper had high standards then, and they still
set the bar high when it comes to journalism.”
Trailing Ashley only slightly in longevity
at the paper is Nels Johnson, who’s worked
there for 40 consecutive years and now cov-
ers Civic Center politics. “Working for a
community newspaper, you have to make
your best possible effort every day,” he notes.
“When you’re this close to your readers, the
worst thing possible is to get scooped — or to
miss a story altogether.” Among memorable
stories Johnson didn’t miss are the 1995
Inverness fire on Mount Vision; the Marin
floods of 1982 and 2005; and the murders,
starting in 1979, of at least five Bay Area hik-
ers over a two-year period before an arrest
was finally made. “Those murders became
a worldwide story, and I named the guy the
Trailside Killer,” Johnson recalls.
As for politics, he remembers covering the
budding career of a then–Marin county supervisor who’s now California Senator Barbara
Boxer; the political boldness of former
Marin Supervisor Gary Giacomini and the
prescience of former Supervisor Denis Rice.
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