A New Editor Guides the Independent


This week marks the end of an era, and a new beginning, at the Laguna Beach Independent.

Readers may notice a change in the Indy’s masthead next Friday, as Firebrand Media News Group Editor Andrea Adelson retires today after nearly 14 years at the paper’s helm.

Allison Jarrell
Allison Jarrell

Adelson is passing the torch to Indy reporter Allison Jarrell. Jarrell graduated from Michigan State University and cut her journalistic chops as a reporter at the Capital Journal in Pierre, S.D. From there, she covered city government for the Petaluma Argus-Courier in the Bay Area before heading south to The Capistrano Dispatch in San Juan Capistrano, where she spent three years as the paper’s sole reporter and editor, and as a contributor to the San Clemente Times and Dana Point Times. She began covering city hall for the Indy in February.

“I’m honored to have been tapped as the Indy’s next editor,” Jarrell said. “Andrea has provided a crucial service to the Laguna Beach community by prioritizing investigative stories that demonstrate the value of transparency and accountability, and offer depth and context surrounding the town’s most important issues. That caliber of local journalism is more vital than ever, and I look forward to continuing that work.”

Adelson worked in print her entire 41-year career, starting with a regional monthly magazine in Riverside in 1977 and then a succession of daily newspapers in Fontana, Ontario, Costa Mesa and Los Angeles. Adelson put a brake on her career while raising two children and began freelancing, including writing for The New York Times’ business section.

“I was ready to resume work full time about the time a friend’s son died in a car accident here in Laguna,” Adelson said. “The unsophisticated news coverage of that double fatality in the Independent prompted me to come forward and suggest to the founding publisher that a more experienced journalist was needed to elevate the professionalism of the publication.”

Outgoing Indy editor Andrea Adelson.
Outgoing Indy editor Andrea Adelson.

She made her case and has been running the show since January 2005.

Adelson said she’s particularly proud of the “paradise lost” stories that she pursued, such as articles about a rash of suicides, a boy’s overdose and the quixotic struggle to save the Boom Boom Room.

“But I’m also proud of the team that over time has included a dozen other reporters and many unpaid contributors, who appreciated the paper’s reputation for integrity and aggressiveness and wanted to enrich the enterprise with their own voices,” Adelson said. “The combination created a weekly edition that rivaled a great cocktail party in its texture and also held up a mirror to the town to reflect its strengths, idiosyncrasies and short-comings.”

Prior to her departure, Adelson said “readers will surely see the benefit of someone with a different perspective managing news decisions.”

“I’m ready to hand off that responsibility,” she said.

Readers can reach Allison Jarrell at [email protected].

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