This column will regularly offer profiles of our news staff — those who write the stories, take the pictures and video, create maps, edit the stories and design pages. Today we feature two of our award-winning reporters; each covers communities and issues in South and North County.
Cynthia’s relationship with The Tribune dates to 2000, when she interned here while studying journalism at Cal Poly. She joined the news staff full time in 2003, covering South County communities, then left four years later for a reporting job at our sister paper, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Texas.
But she and husband Aaron, whom she met at the Mustang Daily while attending Cal Poly, missed California.
So Cynthia accepted a public relations job in Sacramento near her family, where she worked about two years for a nonprofit organization. When she heard that a reporting position opened up at The Tribune in 2010, she applied — and we quickly hired her back as our South County reporter!
Cynthia has long preferred print journalism “because of the opportunity for more in-depth reporting and the potential to write more detailed stories. I also love meeting local residents and sharing their stories; and the fact that I never quite know what the day will bring.”
That said, she and other reporters now write first for this website in order to share news quickly — and even shoot short videos to add another dimension to their coverage.
Cynthia most enjoys writing news features about local residents, which typically appear in the South County Beat column, and education issues. Last year, she and three other reporters won honorable mention in the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s annual competition for a series that examined budget problems facing local schools and efforts to address them. The series was also praised by McClatchy’s vice president of news, Anders Gyllenhaal.
Cynthia, 34, lives in Santa Margarita with her husband and 10-month-old daughter, Casey.
Tonya Strickland, 31, has worked at The Tribune since 2005 and has been a staff writer since 2009. She covers the cities of Paso Robles and Atascadero as well as the smaller communities across the North County. She also follows Atascadero State Hospital and is well-versed in the issues it faces, including violent incidents among patients.
In addition to her reporting, Tonya maintains a strong presence on social media — using Twitter and Facebook, for example, to gather and share information. And she enjoys taking videos.
Tonya’s favorite stories are local history pieces and inspiring accounts from everyday people. She also enjoys digging into facts and figures, and, like her colleagues, strives to keep government officials accountable.
She was one of three reporters who researched and produced a five-part investigative series on wine and water last year — a series that documented the precipitous drop in the North County’s main groundwater source and the risks that it poses for residents and the county’s economy. The series and subsequent coverage won numerous awards, including first place for investigative reporting from the California Newspaper Publishers Association and a McClatchy Co. President’s Award for journalism excellence.
In addition, a feature story that Tonya wrote last year about a local woman’s reunion with the daughter she gave up for adoption during World War II won second place for best writing from CNPA. In 2012, Tonya earned a second-place CNPA award for her contributions to a series of stories on local government coverage.
Tonya, a Cal Poly journalism graduate, lives in Paso Robles with her husband, Bowen, their new baby daughter and a sweet Boxer-mix pup named Penny.
Do you have a question about the newspaper, our website or our coverage? Email Executive Editor Sandra Duerr at firstname.lastname@example.org.