The newest member of the board of directors of Californians Aware was last year appointed to the Redlands City Council after serving almost five years as editor of the Redlands Daily Facts, crowning an editing career in the Inland Empire that began in 1998.
Toni Momberger was named Journalist of the Year recently in its small daily newspapers division by Digital First Media, formerly MediaNews Group, a Denver-based conglomerate managing newsrooms throughout California as well as in New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico.
The newspaper group executive nominating Ms. Momberger for the award cited several “examples of her day-in, day-out contributions:
“She goes to dress rehearsals of the school plays and reviews them before opening night.
“She has partnered with the town’s school newspapers, and periodically takes over the journalism classes at Redlands High School, Redlands East Valley High School and Moore Middle School; She teaches the entire journalism course at the Grove charter school as a volunteer.
“She started a Faith page, and put the churches in town in a rotation to provide a column (it works out to about one per year per church.) Also the RDF now runs a church calendar and news of happenings on that page.
“She started a personal column where she attends, participates in or does a ride-along on something anyone in Redlands may do, and she tells readers what it’s like.
“She started brown bag lunches with journalism lessons and lunch in the former composing room; she partnered with the community foundation for funding to pay for speakers.
“She partnered with the senior communities to give Redlands Daily Facts historical tours of the town. They come pick her up in their van and she directs the driver while spouting fun facts.
“Once a month or so she bakes cookies or cupcakes and declares Meet-the-Editor Day. She puts out the word through social media that she’s trying to meet everyone in town. “If I haven’t met you yet, come into my office and tell me your story.”
“At the end of 2012 she launched a project wherein she interviews someone every week on video. This is to commemorate the city’s 125th anniversary. She teamed with the city’s videographer to get the stories and memories from people who either impacted or are experts on the fabric of the town’s history.”
When the sudden death of a council member last fall created a vacancy to be filled by a one-year appointment, Ms. Momberger applied along with several others and, to her surprise, was the council’s choice.
Since then she has resolved to campaign to retain her seat at this year’s November election, citing much unfinished business.
Tim Crews, president of Californians Aware, said the board of directors had no hesitation this past Saturday in unanimously voting Ms. Momberger to join them. “We deliberately seek out a mix of journalists, community activists and public officials to guide us with their insights. Toni covers all the bases.”