It is with deep sadness and great pride that The Santa Barbara
Independent must say goodbye to George Thurlow, the paper’s
publisher for the last 12 years. He will leave later this month to
become the new assistant vice chancellor for Alumni Affairs, and
executive director of the University of California, Santa Barbara
Alumni Association.

George became the publisher of The Independent during a critical
turn in its history, helping to lead the paper from its beginnings
as a small alternative weekly to its present position as a
successful newspaper approaching its 20th year serving Santa
Barbara County. George Thurlow’s professional ethics worked well
with the founding philosophy of The Independent, especially in two
ways. First, he operated from the point of view that the real
business of The Independent was to publish a strong, progressive
newsweekly for Santa Barbara County. Secondly, George embraced the
idea that it was the paper’s responsibility to give back to Santa
Barbara. While newspapers must maintain an independence from the
people, events, and businesses about which they report, they must
also be an integral part of the community they serve. George did
everything in his power to see that that happened. He personally
served in volunteer leadership roles for some of the most important
nonprofits and civic organizations in this county.

Under his direction, The Independent matured as a publishing
business. He helped expand the paper’s advertising base, shepherded
production facilities into the computerized era, and controlled
costs, all the while supporting excellence in a fluid, competitive
marketplace. His many innovative ideas include his favorite, the
Mother’s Day supplement. Each year George goes to a different
elementary school, working with the teachers to help the students
prepare a miniature paper complete with original writing and
hand-drawn advertising copy. Next week will be our 12th annual

But nothing defines George Thurlow’s tenure as publisher more
than his energized commitment to service. He not only was a
hardworking member of a wide variety of boards, but he also strove
to bring disparate members of the community together, if not in
agreement, at least in conversation. He served with equal
dedication on the boards of the politically progressive Fund for
Santa Barbara and of the powerful business lobby, the Downtown
Organization, opening a fruitful dialogue between the two groups.
He served for many years on the board and committees of Old Spanish
Days, where he worked late into the night setting up and breaking
down Fiesta booths. And he also helped make Fiesta a far more
inclusive community celebration. He currently is vice chair of the
Board of Directors of Pacific Broadcasting Co. — which operates the
classical music station, KDB — and sits on the boards of The Santa
Barbara Foundation and Partners in Education.

The basis of George’s success as a publisher, however, rested on
his unique understanding and love of newspapers. Before coming to
The Independent, he had a long career as a journalist. As a
reporter and editor for a number of publications, including editor
and equity partner of the Chico News & Review, George
experienced first hand the drudgery and elation that is the
news-gathering process. When Independent reporters broke strong
stories, George not only congratulated them, but he also had
insightful comments. Too often for these reporters’ comfort, they
found George knew more about their subject than they did. But most
importantly, when stories threatened to jeopardize longstanding
relations with advertisers — as they inevitably do — George never
intervened. He scrupulously maintained the boundaries between
editorial and business. If the fallout was painful, and on a number
of occasions this must have been the case, George made sure no one
in the news department ever saw him wince.

George was frequently the first one to show up for work in the
morning. By the time most Independent staffers start arriving, he
would often be returning from his first — or second — meeting of
the day, always exuding his unique blend of fatalistic good cheer
and jaundiced optimism. We will miss it. But all here at The
Independent can only wish George joy at his new and important post,
for as much as George loves journalism, he loves his alma mater,
UCSB. Not surprisingly he has spent many hours volunteering on
campus, including serving as a past president of the UCSB Alumni
Association, as a former member of its board of directors, and on
the UCSB Foundation. Certainly in his new position, George and his
wife Denise will be able to indulge their passion for the Lady
Gauchos’ basketball games even more than they do now. We
congratulate the university and Chancellor Henry T. Yang for their
good luck. And to George, we shall soon send him off with our best
wishes and most heartfelt thanks. — Marianne Partridge,


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.