Desert Sun seeks new opinion writer as Eric Hartley moves into new role


This will be my last column as Opinion Editor of The Desert Sun – but I won’t go far.

I was promoted to editor of the newspaper. Starting this week, I will be working with many journalists who cover the valley. This means that I will no longer be involved in the editorial board or play any role in the opinion pages.

Managing Editor Julie Makinen will lead opinion coverage while she searches for an editor to replace me.

I came to the desert in May 2021, excited to do a new kind of job. And I leave this role even more convinced of the importance of the opinion section as a platform for civil debate.

Valley readers are lucky that Julie believes in this public forum so much that she is driven to make it thrive and expand its reach. When then-editor Al Franco took a buyout in late 2020, The Desert Sun’s parent company, Gannett, did not fund a replacement.

Community members recognized the need to keep the opinion forum alive. This lead to the creation of an independent association called the Coachella Valley Journalism Foundation. It was through the fundraising efforts of this group that there was money to hire me.

I spent over a year leading our editorial board meetings and writing early draft editorials.

What you have to say is even more important than what we have to say.

The opinion editor reviews the dozens of letters to the editor and column submissions that arrive each week and aims to find those that reflect a diversity of viewpoints, get readers thinking, and foster ongoing conversation.

The importance of such a thoughtful exchange of views has only grown in importance over the past year.

And the Coachella Valley Journalism Foundation stepped up again, pledging to raise funds for my successor. You can find out more about them and the campaign at

By now, you might be wondering how someone who has spent a year forming and writing opinions about the valley can lead unbiased media coverage.

The answer: That’s what journalists do every day. Being fair does not mean having no opinion; it means recognizing the blind spots your own opinions create and working to overcome them.

Just as getting all sides of a story helps a reporter uncover the truth, being exposed to a wide variety of viewpoints has helped me see local debates from multiple angles.

I am proud of what we have accomplished since I started work. I’ve published hundreds of letters to the editor, dozens of Valley Voice columns, and dozens of op-eds, leading to over 2.6 million page views on DesertSun’s opinion section. com since May 2021.

I helped interview and select two new members of the editorial board community, Laura James and Ezekiel Bonillas, who bring valuable new perspectives to our discussions. And I have sought to bring a diversity of viewpoints to the editorial cartoons we publish.

I will now return to my roots on the news side of our coverage, but I encourage you to continue sending letters and columns to [email protected]

And write to me and our reporters with timely advice. I’m at [email protected], and you can find a list of reporters and what they cover at


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