By Sara Butler
Two San Diego Community News Network (SDCNN) editors will be honored at Save Our Heritage Organisation’s (SOHO) 35th annual People In Preservation Awards on May 18.
Morgan M. Hurley, editor of both San Diego Downtown News and Gay San Diego, and Ken Williams, editor of San Diego Uptown News, will receive “The Town Crier” award from SOHO. SOHO is a local nonprofit dedicated to maintaining San Diego’s history through advocacy and education.
After serving in the Navy and working in the IT industry for nearly 30 years, Hurley followed her father’s footsteps and became a community newspaper editor. She began her focus on a journalism career at San Diego Gay and Lesbian News (SDGLN) in 2009, before joining the SDCNN family five years ago.
Williams has been the editor of San Diego Uptown News for a little over two years. Since moving to San Diego in 2005, he has held roles as senior copyeditor at Union-Tribune and editor-in-chief of SDGLN.
SOHO’s annual People In Preservation Awards commend and thank community members who are upholding the nonprofit’s mission of preservation and service. This year they will recognize 10 separate projects, including Horton Plaza Park’s restoration, renovations and rehabilitations of private homes, and SDCNN’s media coverage on preservation.
“The Town Crier” honor is reserved for voices in the media who have contributed a significant body of work to promote preservation and raise awareness to their readers.
“What stands out is how Morgan [Hurley] and Ken [Williams] have included, along with all the other news and business content, a focus on community,” said Alana Coons, education and communications director of SOHO. “They take this further by embracing each community’s uniqueness and individual stories and history by gathering historians, community leaders, museum professionals, artisans and preservationists from each area to contribute preservation and history news stories.”
Williams, a resident of North Park, noted that the patchwork of unique communities is one of the reasons he loves living in San Diego.
“People who live in each neighborhood are extremely proud of their neighborhood, evidenced by all the street signs [such as in University Heights, Mission Hills, Hillcrest and the Boulevard],” Williams said. “So each neighborhood takes on a different personality because they are built in different eras.”
Williams had not experienced this phenomenon in other cities he previously called home, such as Dallas, Fort Lauderdale or his 450-person hometown in Ohio.
“Everybody [in San Diego] has a little bit of different history that they can boast as part of their neighborhood and I think pride comes forth from that,” he continued. “You don’t see [that in] a lot of places I’ve lived over the years.”
Williams holds a great appreciation for San Diego’s older buildings and the character they carry, citing the Craftsman, Victorian homes and Spanish Bungalows as examples. He currently lives in a 1932 historical house himself, which includes many of its original design elements, such as a stone fireplace, high ceilings, built-in bookshelves, and a Jack-and-Jill bathroom.
In addition to architecture, Hurley pointed out that the experiences locals share — including the struggles and strides of the LGBT community —comprise San Diego’s history.
“Our LGBT community has a big history here and it has gone from being where the people had to march in the street with bags over their heads [to hide their faces] to our current Pride celebration, which is the largest civic event of the city,” Hurley said.
In Gay San Diego, Hurley runs “Out of the Archives,” a column from Lambda Archives of San Diego that focuses on the history of the local LGBT community. A recent piece – “The history of our [LGBT] bars” – was extremely popular with readers.
“We have had more response to that column than any of their columns for a year and a half,” she said. “So clearly that’s what people want to know and talk about, sharing things that connect with their own personal relationship with the history of our community.”
Hurley, who lives in the Loma Portal area, uses her role in the media to share her views on community history, preservation and progress.
“As an editor, I can often speak out on how I feel,” she said. “I think the community has to move forward, but I really want them to preserve the things that can and should be preserved,” she said. “It is our job to be objective when it comes to reporting the news but we are also a voice for our community to take a stand occasionally on certain things. And preservation can be an area where we could all make a stand.”
SOHO is recognizing the two editors for the content they oversee in their respective newspapers, including a number of regular columns. Uptown News has “House Calls,” which runs every other issue and is authored by Michael Good, a restorative expert on Craftsman homes; and “Past Matters,” written by Katherine Hon, secretary of the North Park Historical Society.
San Diego Downtown News currently runs two regular columns that deal with history, “Gaslamp Landmarks” by Sandee Wilhoit, historian of the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation; and “Growing Balboa Park,” compiled and written by both Reema Makani Boccia and Ann Wilson, of the Friends of Balboa Park organization. Ann Jarmusch, a SOHO member and former architecture critic for the San Diego Union-Tribune, wrote six issues of a “Preservation Matters” column in 2016.
Gay San Diego runs a monthly column called “Out of the Archives,” written by Lambda Archives staff, focuses on the history of the local LGBT community and shares information about various collections within the vaults of the organization.
Hurley and Williams have both also run or penned various other editorials and articles related to history and preservation themselves, such as Williams’ extensive news coverage of the Uptown Planners.
“The outstanding articles from numerous columnists and paper-wide content help inform their readers with a larger understanding of San Diego’s development,” said Bruce Coons, executive director of SOHO. “The myriad of voices and topics illustrates that preservation and history are relevant to all and important in today’s world.”
Also being honored with People in Preservation Awards at the event are: City of San Diego/Civic San Diego Westfield, LLC; Richard Gentry of the San Diego Housing Commission; Richard and Kim Schwab; Jim Hughes of Friends of Balboa Park; Charles Tiano; Elizabeth Maland; Nicole Purvis; and Bandy Blacksmith Guild.
Save Our Heritage Organisation’s People In Preservation ceremony will be held on Thursday, May 18, from 4–6:30 p.m. at the Marston House Museum and Gardens. Champagne reception starts at 4 p.m., followed by the awards ceremony. Tickets are $45 for members, $55 for nonmembers and available online or by phone. Call 619-297-9327 or visit SOHOsandiego.org.
—To find links of the San Diego Community News Network newspapers, visit sdcnn.com. Reach Morgan M. Hurley at email@example.com and Ken Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sara Butler is the web and social media manager at SDCNN. Reach her at email@example.com.