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The Poet Editor of West Marin, for The Columbia Journalism Review

My profile of Tess Elliott, for the magazine’s Spring 2017 issue, devoted to local news:

Wednesday is production day at the Point Reyes Light, a weekly newspaper based in the town of Inverness, just over an hour north of San Francisco along the bucolic, switchbacked coastal roads of West Marin County. In the middle of the Light’s skylit newsroom, lined with heavy wooden desks and filing cabinets containing years of old issues, five staffers are in various stages of completing the week’s stories and layout.Near the front of the office, the paper’s editor in chief, Tess Elliott, a slight, fine-boned woman with a tangle of auburn hair, frowns as she proofreads the Sheriff’s Calls page.

The police blotter is a fixture in many local newspapers, but it’s safe to say that most haven’t gotten quite as much attention as the Sheriff’s Calls. Compiled and written by Elliott, who has been running the paper for a decade, the column has inspired two short-story collections by a local writer and, more recently, national coverage by Slate (“The Best Police Blotter in America”). A New York literary agent has called Elliott about doing a book; the Oakland Museum of California has asked her to give a talk; one Bay Area writer wanted to collaborate with Elliott on a coffee table book. She hasn’t pursued any of these—largely because she doesn’t have the time, but also because she doesn’t want readers thinking that she is taking advantage of their misfortunes.

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