As reported in the CNPA Bulletin of the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the presentation read:
Tim Crews, editor and publisher of the twice weekly Sacramento Valley Mirror, continues, at 65 years old, to edit and publish California's most courageous newspaper.
Whether they know him or not, he is clearly owed a great debt of gratitude by his publishing peers, all of whom benefit greatly in our state from his unremitting insistence on transparency of government activities. He backs up that eternal vigilance with a willingness to pursue through every legal means the public's access to records, opening doors to government meetings, and the firm resistance to revealing confidential sources even if it means going to jail for his beliefs.
His newspaper, which covers a multi-county area of the north Sacramento valley's rural heartland, is a "must read" for thousands of residents and every single public employee and elected official. It covers the local scene in extreme detail augmented by columns of provocative opinion including his own fiery editorials. He still finds time to write much of the paper's hard news stories, take pictures, sell advertising, and tend to the many aspects of successfully running a complex venture on a virtual shoestring.
Tim Crews had many years of newspaper experience in the north valley before starting the Mirror in 1991. Since then his paper has gone on to win three times CNPA's annual Freedom of Information award and first place for investigative reporting in CNPA contests. He is the recipient of the Hofstra University Francis Frost Wood Award for Courage in Journalism and the California Society of Newspaper Editors' Bill Farr award.
Crews served five days in jail in 2000 for refusing to disclose the source of an embarrassing story of a gun stolen by a police officer. He wrote up that experience in a searing indictment of rural jails.
His crusades on behalf of the public continued in 2009 with additional victories in court which pried loose documents and revealed hidden actions. To date his aggressive willingness to use the California Public Records Act and the Ralph M. Brown open meetings law has resulted in many hundreds of thousands of dollars paid in awards. He has never lost a legal challenge.
His tiny, hardworking staff, including dedicated interns from Stanford University, to this day publishes a newspaper that exemplifies the great traditions of a free press as embodied in a motivated, courageous editor-publisher. To accomplish this goal in a rural area with powerful entrenched economic interests, a hide-bound local government establishment and a strong conservative political tradition is a significant achievement.
Tim Crews well deserves acclaim as the Justus F. Craemer 2009 Newspaper Executive of the Year. He joins 44 other California newspaper executives who have received the award since 1967.
A personal note, admittedly from a longtime friend. Crews is a journalist
- who routinely, personally and vigorously attacks local governmental secrecy, corruption and dysfunction—and who just as routinely uses the sunshine laws in the courts to do it;
- whose pages are a true "mirror"—and a compassionate one—of a poor valley community and its abused and neglected wretched of the earth as well as its happier moments;
- who has used the newspaper relentlessly to crusade against miscarriages of justice, including most recently the botched investigation of a conspicuous homicide;
- who has gone to jail to protect vulnerable unnamed sources; and
- who has personally paid the price of his audacity in repeated criminal attempts on his property and his life.
The award is in a way also a tribute to the California Press Association in expanding its gallery of notables to include a fighting newspaperman in the sense that would be instantly recognized in any place, in any language and in any era since the word has had any meaning.