Tom Couzens is photographed in the newsroom of the Sacramento Bee newspaper in 2017. Photo by Lisa Roberts Hahn

The Long Road to Reinvention

Back Commentary May 30, 2019 By Tom Couzens

Life can take unexpected twists and turns. Five years ago, I was firmly established with a very prominent Sacramento company, and in a long-term marriage, fortunate to have four children and four grandchildren.

Two life-changing events led to my arrival at Comstock’s magazine as managing editor in late March.

In 1984, after being laid off from the erstwhile News American in Baltimore, I had offers from The Sacramento Bee and The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. The choice was easy — go west, young man. During more than 33 years at The Bee, I did nearly every job in the newsroom sans features: sports copy editor, sports page designer, assistant sports editor, deputy sports editor, assistant business editor, business news editor, Sunday editor, news editor, sports editor (again), sports columnist and news editor (again). I learned from and was mentored by some of the finest journalists I’ve met, and I led or participated in coverage of some of the biggest stories of our lifetimes, among them:

  • National: 9/11; the election of Barack Obama; Hurricane Katrina; the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters
  • Locally: the arrival of the Kings; the Loma Prieta earthquake; the election of Kevin Johnson as mayor of Sacramento; the development of Golden 1 Center and Downtown Commons; the devastating wildfires over the past three years; Sacramento’s pursuit of Major League Soccer

I never intended to stay in Sacramento more than three or four years — I was an East Coast guy through and through — but I met my wife (and her two children) in 1987. We married in 1991, had twins in 1998, welcomed four grandchildren over the past 13 years, and now I’m firmly entrenched in the region. In March of 2014, we were hit with devastating news when Betsy was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma. Our lives took a dramatic turn, with every minute of every day focused on her battle. Though she made it beyond the six-month prognosis, the inevitable happened and she left us late in the night on March 29, 2017.

Roughly one year later, on May 4, 2018, I left The Bee for the final time, along with 22 other veteran journalists. I figured I would leave journalism behind, too. But it’s a calling, a passion, and Comstock’s founder and publisher Winnie Comstock-Carlson made a persuasive pitch to join her talented team of writers, artists, designers and editors.

My connections to Elk Grove run deep. We moved there in 1991 because of the award-winning schools, housing values and easy commute. We raised our four children there — they all graduated from Elk Grove Unified schools — and we continue to enjoy the many amenities the Sacramento region’s second-largest city offers: excellent schools, great parks and outdoor spaces (including the nearby Cosumnes River Preserve), plenty of shopping (avoid Laguna Boulevard on weekends) and easy access to downtown Sacramento.

Full disclosure: This month, the City of Elk Grove will be sponsoring a promotional section in our magazine. It’s a coincidence; when Elk Grove signed on, the magazine most likely didn’t know my name. Nearly every printed issue of Comstock’s includes a promotional section, i.e. paid content that is clearly labeled and designed. In May, it was the City of Sacramento. We do these sections because they bring in much-needed revenue to support our award-winning storytelling — producing quality journalism is expensive.

As managing editor, I can assure you the journalism in our news pages and on our website is independent. Comstock-Carlson, who founded the magazine 30 years ago, understands and fully supports the wall between advertising and news, the need for objectivity, transparency and accountability, and we never promise news stories to our advertisers.

Comstock’s has and will continue to provide quality journalism to the 10-county Capital Region. Please also read our online-exclusive content and subscribe to our magazine. You also can sign up for our newsletter.

If you have questions or ideas for coverage, drop me an email to

And thanks for taking the time to read Comstock’s.

Tom Couzens
Managing Editor


Rev. Maureen White, EdD, SPHR (not verified)June 5, 2019 - 2:54pm

Tom, congrats and best wishes to you in your not-so-new-now new professional adventure. And, may Betsy's spirit be with you always, illuminating your life. I receive and share my Comstock's at the CA Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, where I am an education consultant in Workforce Division, State of CA. I am also an ordained interfaith minister in Sacramento. Might be interesting to profile what the interfaith community is doing in Sacramento, and their support of our homeless.