With heavy hearts, we are bidding farewell to our managing editor Lissette Mendoza. Lissette has been our leader, our editor and, most importantly, our champion long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the city and our newsroom.
Lissette started in the humble position of intern in 2018. Since then, she’s risen through the ranks at record pace, becoming our managing editor just months before the pandemic would change the city, and our newsroom, forever. A loud and proud Latina woman, she became the paper’s first ever woman-of-color managing editor, and the newspaper is better for it.
Lissette has been a fierce supporter of diversifying our reporting. On top of working with our former managing editor to spearhead an En Español section on our website, her commitment to covering underserved populations was a true example of the age-old purpose of journalism: giving a voice to the voiceless.
She’s written about the American Dream through profiles on community members overcoming barriers to create generational wealth for their families. She’s carried the emotional toll of journalism through coverage of vigils in the wake of mass shootings. In the wake of nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd last summer, she spent hours cataloguing the rise of what would become a historic riot in Long Beach.
Her reporting goes beyond that which is eye-catching or “trending.” When the community comes together to make a change, Lissette is there, camera in tow, documenting the events to inspire others to make an impact in their own communities. She has a hawk-eye for injustice and she’s not afraid to call them as she sees them.
Lissette’s departure is fueled by what many journalists of color face in the news industry. Her mere existence in an executive newsroom position is a feat in itself. Approximately three-quarters of newsroom employees are non-Hispanic whites, compared to about two-thirds of all U.S. workers, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center study. About half of all newsroom staff are white men, compared with about a third of the overall workforce.
Journalism is an industry fueled by stress and caffeine, as many of our writers know. Added with the emotional toll, and trauma, of covering race and equity, while also personally being affected by these same societal forces mental health often falls to the wayside in exchange for serving an integral role in democracy. But no one should have to sacrifice their wellbeing for a job. Many journalists leave the industry to regroup and later come back stronger than before.
One thing that we all know about Lissette: her journey will not end here. Lissette is a fierce advocate for the Long Beach community. Whether or not she’s with the Tribune will not phase her steadfast support for those who most need it. That, we’re sure of.
To Lissette: Thank you for everything you’ve done for us. A single letter couldn’t possibly outline your achievements. As you pass the torch, we can assure you this: We will carry on your legacy and your dedication to the communities who need us most, to the very best of our ability. We couldn’t have come so far without you, and we hope to go even farther with the strong foundation you’ve laid ahead of us.