The face of the Santa Cruz Sentinel is going through changes beyond the departures of arts writer Wallace Baine and editor Don Miller, who left at the end of November amid financial strain and pressure from Digital First Media, run by a money-sucking hedge fund.
Karen Kefauver, who had written a cycling column for eight years, announced in her most recent dispatch, which ran Friday, Dec. 15, that it would be her last, after the feature got axed due to budget cuts. Haven Livingston’s surfing column has met that same fate, as did Stacey Vreeken’s wine column, which Vreeken has since started publishing on her own WordPress site.
Over the years, Kefauver says she loved getting to know mountain bikers, BMX athletes, racers, young riders and government officials—all of whom took their turn in the spotlight of her “Spin City” stories. “What meant so much for me was to shine a light on the unsung heroes in our cycling community,” says Kefauver, who won a Wheelie Award from Bike Santa Cruz County less than two weeks prior to the day her last column ran.
Both “Spin City” and Livingston’s “Just Add Water Column” had run in the sports section, which has additionally laid off reporter Juan Reyes after he had been on the job less than four months. Managing Editor Kara Meyberg Guzman says Reyes will stay on as a contributor.
Other writers are leaving for their own reasons. Environmental columnist Betsy Herbert is moving to Oregon, and longtime food critic Ann Parker is moving to Maine—each of them for reasons unrelated to the paper, they say. Parker, 65, says she wants be closer to an old high school friend and felt winter wonderland in the Pine Tree State calling her name.
Guzman says the Sentinel has “someone in mind” for its next food columnist, although she isn’t ready to make an announcement. And it isn’t clear yet if the Sentinel will replace the “Earth Matters” column, but it won’t replace the other columns, Guzman says.
Kefauver received an outpouring of support when she announced her last column on Facebook. “I know what you must be feeling, believe me,” Wallace Baine wrote in a comment. “Maybe not today, but soon, you’ll be able to shake off the sadness and anger and look back at what you’ve done and really be proud of your work.”