Adventures in Local Journalism—Gwyn Lurie




By Justine Sutton

Wednesday, October 6th, saw members and guests of AWC-SB gathering on Zoom for the chapter’s monthly meeting, which always features an excellent speaker on a valuable topic.

This month it was all about local journalism—more specifically, Gwyn Lurie’s adventures in taking over as Editor-in-Chief of the longtime weekly Montecito Journal and CEO of the Montecito Journal Media Group. In addition to the weekly paper, the latter encompasses a glossy quarterly publication and a new magazine, The Riv.

Prior to purchasing the paper, Gwyn worked for ABC Network News in New York upon completion of her studies at UCLA and Oxford University. She chaired the Montecito Union District School Board 2012-17 and co-chaired the Santa Barbara Human Rights Watch Committee 2017-19. As a screenwriter, she has written screenplays for nearly every major movie studio.

Gwyn discussed aiming for more issue-oriented stories in the MJ, and how the publication’s political positions have shifted.

“It is attempting to be a paper that gives all perspectives a voice,” she said. “I want it to be the best small newspaper, always with something interesting to say.”

Gwyn spoke enthusiastically about the MJ’s publication of The Giving List, focusing on non-profits, and its increasing scope.

“First we published a Giving List for Santa Barbara, then for Los Angeles and San Francisco. Next year, Washington, DC and Chicago!”

Gwyn is passionate about creating a national network connecting non-profits with donors. She clarified, however, that donors are not only those with a lot of money to give.

“People can donate in three ways,” she said. “With their time, talent, or treasure.”

When asked for advice to aspiring journalists, Gwyn offered this:

“Be bold, take chances, and trust your voice.”

Truly inspiring words for all of us communicators.



AWC-SB Member Spotlight: Leslie Dinaberg

Leslie Dinaberg has been a professional editor and writer for more than 25 years and is currently the Managing Editor of a new UC Santa Barbara publication. Most recently, she was Editor in Chief of Touring & Tasting Magazine, a national wine, and travel publication, and she also spent more than a decade as the Managing Editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, a glossy regional lifestyle magazine and website. Leslie also works on a contract basis, offering her expertise as an editor, writer, and strategic and creative communications professional to regional and national publications, as well as to select nonprofit organizations that are close to her heart. Leslie joined the AWC-SB board as the Social Media Chair in 2021.


Justine Sutton graduated from UCSB and has adopted Santa Barbara as her hometown. She’s a freelance writer, certified in Weddings and Funerals as a Life-Cycle Celebrant® and is training as a voice actor.

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