Catherine Doe: Valley Voice celebrating ten years

On June 6, 2013, a small group of people put out the first issue of the revived Valley Voice: news veteran Steve Pastis, journalism student Tony Maldonado, my late husband Joseph Oldenbourg, and me.

Included in the first issue was a piece by local historian Terry Ommen, lending some historical insight into Visalia’s newspaper landscape, stating “Visalia’s newspaper history has been interesting but not always pleasant.

In 1860, two rival publishers – one supportive of the confederacy (the Visalia Weekly Delta) and one supportive of the union (the Visalia Sun) – engaged in a duel. John Shannon, the owner of the Delta, lost that gunfight.

The Valley Voice hasn’t engaged in any gun fights, but it’s faced down several other existential threats, including legal duels.

Ironically, the person who featured in our inaugural issue of the Valley Voice was former Congressmember Devin Nunes. It’s not ironic because he wasn’t a gracious supporter at the time, but because after former President Trump was elected, he sued five or six news media outlets and reporters for hundreds of millions of dollars.

That June 2013 issue wasn’t the first Valley Voice ever published.

Carmelita Jarvis came home one day from her job as an appraiser in Kings County in the summer of 1979 and announced to her passel of seven kids, “I’m going to put out a newspaper that tells the truth.”

And thus was born the Valley Voice – but more on that later.

Over the last ten years, Joseph and I continued Carmelita’s legacy of being a “newspaper that tells the truth.”

Veteran writer Dave Adalian, who stepped in after Pastis departed in 2014, latched onto the stories coming out of Tulare Regional Medical Center from a group of doctors that had been ousted from the hospital’s Medical Executive Committee during a secret meeting.

Joseph and Tony took on streaming and covering the Tulare Local Hospital District meetings and their reporting shone a light on the activities at the hospital, and likely contributed to the eventual ouster of Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA) at Tulare Regional Medical Center and the Southern Inyo Hospital.

Tony, who is a writer and our web manager, is still covering the criminal case against HCCA CEO Dr. Yorai ‘Benny’ Benzeevi, former HCCA CFO Alan Germany, and former HCCA attorney Bruce Greene.

I’d like to say that my articles made as much impact – such as precipitating the closure of an abhorrent puppy mill in Tulare that churned out thousands of “purebreds” and generated $400,000 a year for its owner, Pastor Ron Abbott. But the mill’s final demise came with Abbott’s death from COVID, one of the first in Tulare County.

What really lit the fire in my belly was giving a voice to locals tearing their hair out while watching local corruption happen in broad daylight, but no one reporting on it. In my October 2017 Political Fix I wrote a column “Carlton Jones is a bully” and soon after comments such as “Catherine Doe, I don’t know you but I love you!! Thank you for printing this story” appeared.

Dave and Nancy Vigran, the Voice’s former writer and advertising manager, wrote a series of stories in 2018 covering the turmoil rolling through the City of Tulare: the firing of the city’s police chief, city manager, and city attorney, the opening of a harassment investigation into a councilmember, and remarks made by Jones that mobilized the ag community to fill the council chambers in protest.

The Tulare City Council would ultimately vote to remove Jones from his ceremonial position as mayor, and he narrowly lost re-election in 2020.


The first incarnation of the Valley Voice

Carmelita had a fire in her belly also to report the stories not covered in the mainstream media and it was the Visalia Times-Delta that ignited her.

After submitting a story about a controversial political activist, Angela Davis, and her peaceful event at COS, the Times-Delta changed Carmelita’s narrative to imply that the event was not peaceful after all.

When she confronted the editor and publisher, she said that they mocked her and that the Times-Delta was the only game in town – so she was just going to have to accept their editorial license in silence if she ever wanted a career in journalism.

“What are you going to do with your journalism degree, start your own paper?” they said with a hearty laugh.

Carmelita had gone back to school in her forties and got her journalism degree with a minor in public relations from Fresno State. After several frustrating attempts to write for the Times-Delta, while holding down a full-time job, she dropped everything and started the Valley Voice.

According to her daughter Julie, Carmelita wanted to model the paper after the Village Voice in New York, which she had admired in her youth for its personal touches and independence.

She brought in John Lindt to do the printing and Craig Lindaman to sell ads. In 1982 she sold her shares of the paper to Lindt and then started The San Joaquin Eagle that lasted a few years before she retired from the newspaper business.

Growing up, my family and the Jarvis family occasionally crossed paths, unknowing of the fates that would circle around decades later and land me as editor of the paper founded by Carmelita.

My siblings and I floated in and out of her kids’ lives at Green Acres Middle School and Redwood High and I remember my dad sitting at the dinner table complaining about “that liberal Carmelita Jarvis” the way most farmers and developers did in the 1980’s

I started writing for the Valley Voice in 2010 under Editor George Lurie. Through previous bad management and a 2009 case of unreported embezzlement, the Valley Voice went bankrupt Christmas of 2011.

The last man standing was the late farmer Mel Heier, who had invested a large amount of money over the years to keep the paper afloat. After several offers to buy the paper fell through, including one from a group of investors in which Dr. Parmod Kumar was a part – and who would later be seen as supporting Benzeevi and HCCA – an aging Hieir was at his wits end.

He asked Lurie his advice.

“I think Joseph and Catherine could run the Valley Voice,” Lurie said.

The rest is history. And what a different history that would have been if Kumar had successfully bid for the paper back in 2012.

And Carmelita? She is still kicking at 91, but she’s a little less optimistic about the fate of print journalism than when she started the Valley Voice 44 years ago.

The Valley Voice converted to an online publication during the pandemic, with our last print issue published on March 19 2020.

But years before COVID, establishments that were the mainstay of newspapers such as Starbucks and Component Coffee were already shunning newspapers. Print journalism was, and still is, on life support: by the time the pandemic was over there was hardly anyone left in the habit of picking up a paper, and even fewer locations that wanted it.

Millennials and Gen Z now scoff disapprovingly at the sight of their parents reading an actual paper as impractical and ecologically unsound. In fact, I don’t know anyone under 60 who gets the morning paper delivered to their front door.

I enjoy my coffee and Times-Delta in the morning and encourage everyone to subscribe to the Visalia Times-Delta and Fresno Bee.

And after you have finished, head over to to read up on all the stories mainstream media won’t print. It’s all here in the Valley Voice!

9 thoughts on “Catherine Doe: Valley Voice celebrating ten years

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  1. Thanks for covering news of the valley. The Valley Voice most definitely makes a difference! A big thank you to each member of the Valley Voice.

  2. Congratulations on 10 years.

    I would say the biggest story you’ve missed had been the elevation of Dennis Townsend to Supervisor of District 5 on the back of a sudden or more homophobic rants at Porterville City Council and an alliance with homophobes on Porterville Council and indifference to civil rights of LGBTQ people by City Hall officials right up to City Manager John Lollis.

    All that with a sidebar: Lollis’ administration has been defined by total economic development failure at every turn, because who wants their brand associated with both solid well paying jobs *and* anti-lgbt hate? Very few do, and Lollis hasn’t even been able to draw interest from those few, let alone anyone else.

    This is an ongoing story, it’s never too late to cover.

    • Who is “Porterville could be so much better”?

  3. Congratulations Catherine. I have always enjoyed your efforts in finding and publishing the truth. You are definitely needed in the Central Valley.

  4. To Catherine:
    Thank you for the excellent article on the history of the Valley Voice. As the youngest child in a family of seven, I was fortunate to see my mother, Carmelita, evolve firsthand. The Valley Voice was not a real risk for her, given what she had already faced down in life, it was a labor of love that also helped to support our family. We all grew up to love reading of all type… My brothers Michael and Patrick made their careers in writing, one in print media and one in the field of television. I suppose the remaining five of us did as well as the top four, Terese Jack Julie and Geoffrey, became teachers and administrators and I am a lawyer.

    We are fortunate to have a mother who was always ahead of her time in so many areas. We were encouraged to secure our education at any cost, to appreciate the arts and learn an instrument and above all to be kind. Loyalty to Country and honesty were stressed, but the courage to question authority was a given. An expectation we all fulfilled at different challenges in our lives, lives we owe to her without question!!

    My mother is 91 years old and surrounded by the love of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren . We, as a sibling group, are considered a success but I can assure you that we would have not succeeded in the fashion we have without the shining example and steadfast guidance of our hard working Mother.
    Thank you for including her in your retrospective and finest congratulations on your ten year anniversary!!
    With Thanks and hope for another several decades of success,

    Mary C. Jarvis
    Attorney at Law

  5. Thanks Catherine. You and the Valley Voice staff are the Mark Twain of Journalism. And, you deserve a Pulitzer prize for having the guts to hold people accountable in Tulare/Kings county. The only criticism I have is I wish there was more stories about new business opening up in Visalia. I was in the Tulare co jail for a few mths back in 2007 and I got the valley voice delivered and it made my time go so happily. As crazy as it seems I didn’t mind being in jail and losing my freedom but I didn’t want to miss the news.

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