Our news media family mourns the loss of one of our own

Gretchen A. Peck | for editor and editor

Kimberly Mata-Rubio is a reporter for the local newspaper The Uvalde Leader-News. She was at her desk when her newsroom received the first police alert. Rubio testified before the House of Representatives hearing on gun violence, telling everyone who listened, “Lexi would have made a positive change in this world. She wanted to attend St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas on a softball scholarship. She wanted to major in mathematics and continue her studies in law. This opportunity was taken away from him. She was taken from us.

By all accounts, Kimberly Mata-Rubio is an exceptional person. A mother of six and wife of Felix Rubio, a sheriff’s deputy and Iraq War veteran, she rose through the ranks of the local Uvalde, Texas newspaper, Uvalde Leader-News.

She started with the newspaper in 2010, recalls Craig Garnett, the publisher of Uvalde Leader-News: “Kim was a receptionist, and when she didn’t answer the phone, she always had a book open on her desk, and we thought, ‘Well, fuck, if she likes to read, maybe she’d like to write.’

“We had a reporting position that opened in 2012,” he continued. “She took this job and did it for four years, and then we appointed her deputy editor, and she did it for a few years. Then she decided she wanted to finish college, so she went back to school, taking classes at St. Mary’s in San Antonio while working part-time for us and raising six kids. … He really is an amazing human being.

Kimberly Mata-Rubio is exceptional in another horrible way. She is one of hundreds of mothers who have buried their children this year because of gun violence. Felix and Kimberly’s beloved daughter, Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, “Lexi”, died at her elementary school on May 24, 2022, one of 21 people to have their lives robbed that morning. None of their families, community or newsroom will ever be whole again.

Lexi was only 10 years old.

Garnett described the Uvalde Leader-News team as “tight”. It is a family business in every sense of the word. Besides the publisher, there are Meghann Garcia and Pete Luna, a couple who serve as editor and general manager respectively. There are a few journalists, including Kimberly, and just a handful of invaluable employees who keep the business running. Sometimes Garnett also writes for the newspaper.

Kimberly Mata-Rubio is a reporter for the local newspaper The Uvalde Leader-News. She was at her desk when her newsroom received the first police alert. Rubio testified before the House of Representatives hearing on gun violence, telling everyone who listened, “Lexi would have made a positive change in this world. She wanted to attend St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas on a softball scholarship. She wanted to major in mathematics and continue her studies in law. This opportunity was taken away from him. She was taken from us.

He said Meghann and Kimberly are quite close, “like sisters”, and their staff members share meals together several times a week.

“Truly, a family,” said the editor.

It may not be difficult for anyone who has worked in local news, or even a major news agency, to imagine how devastating this crime, and in particular the loss of a child, is to their family. enlarged. We mourn with them.

When I spoke with Garnett a month after the shooting at Robb Elementary, the staff had just completed an editorial meeting. The newspaper was very focused on getting answers to their questions about the law enforcement response that day. “Everyone is really focused on their job,” he said.

“We also talk about schools and the future. We reached out to Sandy Hook and some of the other superintendents to find out what they did and how, and what they might recommend in hindsight to help us move forward and heal,” he said. declared.

I asked Garnett if a crime and tragedy of this magnitude, affecting the entire community — and beyond — could consume their newsroom. He is determined not to allow that to happen, citing the morning meeting in which they provided updates on the unrelated coverage they were reporting – city government news and local garden club, for example. They are dedicated to circulating familiar and necessary information to the public.

The newspaper has not only mobilized to support the community; the community has been particularly supportive in kind. In fact, they heard people from all over the world express their condolences and sympathy. Many have written to congratulate Kimberly Rubio for her moving and important testimony to Congress despite her untold grief.

As editor – and, in a sense, patriarch – Garnett knows that it will take time for their family to heal and that professional trauma counseling can help. For now, they remain focused on their work and their duty to the community while embracing and uplifting each other.

A scholarship fund has been established by St. Mary’s University in honor of Lexi Rubio – the Alexandria “Lexi” A. Rubio Law Scholarship. “Lexi wanted to be a lawyer,” Garnett said.

Gretchen A. Peck is editor-in-chief of Editor & Publisher. She has been reporting for E&P since 2010 and welcomes comments on gretchenapeck@gmail.com.