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Longtime Journal editor says goodbye

Community leaders credit Rothe with fairness, involvement
By: Journal Staff Report
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The Journal recently said goodbye to a longtime community leader in its editor Deric Rothe. Rothe, who dedicated 14 years to molding the Auburn Journal into a relevant community publication, stepped down from his role for medical reasons. Journal News Editor Jenifer Gee will take his place as the editor of the six-day-a-week publication. Deric has come to a point where he’s made a decision that is the best for his personal life and his family. He offered this statement about his departure: “I am proud of what we accomplished during my 14-plus years as editor/general manager of the Auburn Journal and over the last few years as senior editor for Gold Country Media. I am especially proud of our continued support for local nonprofits, schools, the arts, sports and business communities. And of our role as a watchdog on local government. The many positive relationships I have formed with Auburn-area residents will last a lifetime. I had to take some time off for health reasons, but I believe the best of times for me and for my family are still to come.” Gee said Rothe’s departure is “bittersweet.” “His absence has certainly been felt the last six months,” Gee said. “I consider Deric an incredible mentor and learned many great leadership skills just by watching his actions. I wish him well as he embarks on his next endeavor, where I have no doubt he will be successful.” Rothe truly embodied the spirit and actions of a community newspaper editor. The Auburn Journal’s walls are lined with numerous California Newspaper Publishers Association awards it’s received as well as a handful of national Suburban Newspaper of America honors under his tenure. Rothe was also honored twice as the Gold Country Media manager of the year. As the senior editor for Gold Country Media he spearheaded the move to create a centralized pagination system at the Journal. Currently, all of Gold Country Media’s publications are paginated and edited in the Journal’s Downtown Auburn office. Those publications include the Roseville Press Tribune, Colfax Record, Placer Herald, Loomis News, Lincoln News Messenger and Folsom and El Dorado Hills Telegraphs. The move has greatly improved communication among editors and boosted the overall quality of each newspaper. Michelle Carl (nee Miller) was hired by Rothe in December 2004 to join the Auburn Journal as a reporter. She held the positions of Features Editor and News Editor at the Journal before joining sister publication the Roseville Press Tribune in 2010. "Deric has absolutely molded me to become the journalist I am today. His style is to always look out for the little guy and hold public officials accountable," she said. "He has such pride for Auburn and it showed in his coverage and the connections he made in the community. He's definitely left his mark on me personally and on Auburn." Rothe a community leader Rothe’s contributions to the community were significant as well. In 1997 he founded the Auburn Community Festival. The annual event draws thousands to Recreation Park in Auburn to celebrate the fall season. Festivities include a giant pumpkin growing and scarecrow competitions. A longtime member of the Auburn Gold Country Rotary, Rothe is a two-time winner of the club’s Paul Harris award for service to the club and community. He’s also served as the emcee for the annual State of the Community Dinner and was the voice of the Festival of Lights Parade for many years. Longtime Old Town Auburn business owner and McCann award winner Linda Robinson said one of her first impressions of Rothe came after her store was damaged by a fire in 1997. She said he and Barbara Jicha organized a small fundraiser for Robinson. Robinson said she was touched by the thought and she and Rothe became “good, solid” friends. “We’re good, solid friends,” Robinson said. “We don’t see each other much anymore but he has a special place in my heart and I think I’m in his, too.” Years later, Rothe was on the other end of the phone line when Robinson learned she was the recipient of the Vernon Gould McCann award. The award is a prestigious community honor handed out by the Journal once a year to a person who contributes great time and energy into bettering Auburn. Robinson said Rothe’s longevity at the Journal stands out. “For an editor and general manager to be with the Journal for as long as he was, is a compliment to his abilities and strengths,” Robinson said. “Believe me, I’ve seen many come and go since 1995 and have lots of stories with all of them. However, that being said, I’m happy for him at the same time and I know that the decision he has made is right for him and his family and I respect that.” Editor was fair Auburn city councilman Mike Holmes said he thought Rothe made “valuable contributions” to the community through the newspaper and through the Community Festival. “He really got to know the community,” Holmes said. Holmes added that Rothe was a fair editor. “We didn’t always see eye-to-eye on some of the positions he took but he always gave me a fair hearing,” Holmes said. “From my perspective, Deric had his hand on the tiller and was keeping the community informed about what was going on,” Holmes added. Ken Tokutomi, chairman of the Auburn Salvation Army said he appreciated how accommodating Rothe was in getting the word out about the nonprofit’s events. He added that he also respected Rothe’s passion to report hard news stories. “He always went for the hard stories,” Tokutomi said. “I know he had a lot of people mad at him.” Tokutomi said he admired how that didn’t deter Rothe. “He wouldn’t shy away from the hard story and I have a lot of respect for him for that,” Tokutomi said. “He’s always been fair with me. Whenever something came up he called me for my side of the story and I appreciate that.”