Sebastian Oñate to replace Debbie Davis as editor
On Feb. 21, The Davis Enterprise held a reception to celebrate the promotion of Sebastian Oñate from associate editor to editor of The Davis Enterprise and to bid farewell to Debbie Davis, the current editor and assistant publisher of the local newspaper. Several community leaders and organizers, from police chief Darren Pytel to Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto, joined the Enterprise event to meet the new editor.
“I’ve been at The Enterprise for more than 38 years, and Bruce’s total time here — as editor, sports writer and sports editor — totals 16 years,” Davis said. “So obviously, our departure is going to leave a couple of holes in the newsroom. But our staff is truly a team, and everyone is stepping up to take on new responsibilities. Sadly, due to many staff reductions over the past 10 years, we’ve been asked to do that time and time again. This staff loves The Enterprise and will continue to work hard to produce a community newspaper of which this great town can be proud.”
Davis, a USC School of Journalism alumna, has worked for The Enterprise since 1979. As a member of the Davis Chamber of Commerce, former president of the Rotary Club and longtime community volunteer and organizer, Davis has played an integral role in the Davis community since becoming editor of the Enterprise in 1982. She will be stepping down alongside her husband, Bruce Gallaudet, the current sports editor for The Enterprise, on March 2 and plans to move to the San Francisco peninsula.
“When Oñate takes over as editor (with Wayne Tilcock now the sports editor), it means The Enterprise won’t miss a beat,” Gallaudet said via email. “Together they have about 40 years at the newspaper and each knows their new responsibilities from a unique perspective. Debbie and I have tried to share our experience and knowledge, but both will stand on their own with a wealth of background. Better choices couldn’t have been made to handle a community newspaper.”
Oñate has lived in Davis since 1986, having graduated from Davis Senior High School in 1992. He earned a degree in engineering from Marquette University in Milwaukee, giving him a technological background that Enterprise staff members hope will give him an edge on adapting the print newspaper to the digital age and moving the local business forward. He’s worked for the Enterprise since 1999 and has been working under Debbie Davis as an associate editor since 2000.
“It’s very big footprints I’ve got to fill,” Oñate said. “My advantage is that I’ve been at Debbie’s right hand for 17 years now and I’ve gotten to know how she operates and what the best way to do this job is […] I feel keenly the responsibility of this position. I know people love the Enterprise; I know people depend on the Enterprise for certain news that you can’t get anywhere else. People look to us for that.”
Oñate, Davis, Gallaudet and Bob Dunning, a longtime columnist for the Enterprise, all noted the diminishing capacity within which The Enterprise is forced to operate. The four journalists mentioned how new technologies and larger digital news formats have affected the number of readers and, over time, caused a drop in the output of The Enterprise. To adapt to the new digital format, Gallaudet noted, via email, that the future of The Enterprise would see “new, reader-friendly technology.” All four were confident in the future of printed news and the future of The Enterprise within the Davis community.
“He’s a really sharp guy,” Dunning said of Oñate. “Obviously it’s a very expanded role — a much more public role than he had before […] But in terms of knowing the newspaper and knowing what we need to get in and be efficient, he’d be top-notch. If he can fully replace Debbie, he’ll be a miracle worker. She’s that good. And I believe that he will.”
Written by: Ahash Francis — firstname.lastname@example.org