Tribute to David Mitchell

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor David Mitchell of Pt. Reyes Station, California, who recently retired after 30 years as the editor and publisher of the Point Reyes Light. The Light has covered community activities, misdeeds, and controversies in the rural small towns of West Marin since 1975.

Dave earned a degree in journalism at Stanford University and worked at various small papers before buying the Light with his former wife Cathy. After the couple split up in 1981, Dave sold the paper and worked for the San Francisco Examiner for several years before getting the paper back due to payment default.

Described as everything from "intelligent, scrappy, and folksy" to "controversial, opinionated, and hard-headed," Dave always presented the news in a lively, personal manner and encouraged his readers to participate through letters and columns. He considered himself a muckraker and determinedly pursued deceit and corruption where he saw it. In 1979 he and Cathy won a Pulitzer Prize for their expose of the Synanon cult.

West Marin has changed during Dave's tenure, and the Light chronicled issues such as politics, immigration (even sending reporters to the Azores, Italy, and Jalisco, Mexico, where many were from), relations between Point Reyes National Seashore and the community, and the struggles of ranchers to remain viable as the towns became more gentrified. The paper was always challenged financially as Dave used an inheritance to subsidize it, and he sometimes suffered from severe burn-out as he worked long hours to keep both the finances and the news activities in line. After achieving financial stability, he sold the paper in November, 2005, to Robert Plotkin who made a commitment to maintain its community focus.

Mr. Speaker, David Mitchell has provided a vital service to West Marin as well as setting high standards for community newspapers. I know he will continue as a fixture on the local scene and maintain his passion for the issues he championed.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).