Kelsey Brugger, a talented young journalist upon whose reporting Santa Barbara Independent readers have come to rely, is leaving town – off to Washington, to cover the biggest story in the world.
Fearless, persistent and equipped with a great work ethic, Kelsey has gotten herself hired by E&E News, an influential, subscription-based online news organization which covers energy and environmental policy, where she'll report and write about climate change.
At a time when the U.S. President is the world’s climate change denialist-in chief, not to mention an unhinged, narcissistic global mob boss, the Beltway and her new beat are precisely where a dynamic, 26-year old reporter on the cusp of her career belongs.
Even though her departure kinda pisses us off.
A Newsmakers regular. For amid the hundreds of byline pieces she’s filed during her five-year stint at the Indy, from breaking news, cannabis and criminal justice, to county government, immigration and sexual violence, Brugger also became a mainstay of the panel on “Newsmakers TV,” where her analysis, millennial perspective and bickering with Josh Molina became staples of our fortnightly media gabfest.
"Ever since I was a little kid I loved politics,” she tells us. “And when I went to DC in January 2017 to cover the Women's March and Trump Inauguration, I knew I wanted to work there someday.
“This is a critical time in our country's history," Kelsey added. “The story now is not in Vietnam or El Salvador or Iraq. The story is in Washington DC.“
Yeah well, whatever.
A lot of want-to. Brugger joined the Independent as an intern in March 2013, right out of UCSB. Although she was green as grass, she immediately impressed the Indy’s elderly elders with her curiosity, doggedness and want-to.
Besides the Women’s March (which earned her the title “National Affairs Correspondent” on Newsmakers), Kelsey says her other all-time favorite stories include the paper’s round-the-clock coverage of the Refugio Oil Spill (“I learned a lot covering it because the community was really engaged”) and “Mr. Wash: The Artistic Life of a Con,” a lovely long feature that resulted from months of reporting about Fulton Leroy Washington, who had his lifetime sentence commuted by President Obama.
"I feel very fortunate to have been able to learn so much from my editors and colleagues at the Independent -- Marianne, Nick, Tyler, Matt, Jean, and Paul," she said. "I loved working at a place that had such an impact on the community...I'll miss it."
Yo Kelsey: If this whole DC thing doesn’t work out, no worries, you can always return to Newsmakers – at full salary.
You go girl.
Update: The Indy now has posted Kelsey's first-person farewell, which is here.
Images: Kelsey Brugger by Paul Wellman; In the white hot glare of the Newsmakers TV set; Kelsey working late (Wellman).