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Bee reporter Garth Stapley becomes news organization’s new editorial page editor

Garth Stapley, an award-award winning reporter for The Modesto Bee the last 25 years, has been named Editorial Page Editor for The Bee, effective March 4.

He replaces Mike Dunbar, who retired Thursday after 31 years with The Bee.

Stapley, best known for his work on the case of Laci and Scott Peterson and most recently the allegations of clergy sexual abuse tied to the former First Baptist Church in Modesto, has years of experience covering local governmental agencies, including the City of Modesto, Stanislaus County and the Modesto Irrigation District.

A winner of two prestigious McClatchy President’s Awards and several California Newspaper Publishers Association honors, Stapley’s coverage has touched local, state and national elections, transportation, including the North County Corridor project, growth, real estate fraud, the Oakdale Irrigation District, and investigative projects, including lawsuits against the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and the murder case backlog in Stanislaus County.

“Garth’s knowledge of this area, its players and inner-workings will make for a smooth transition and carry on the high standards set by Mike Dunbar,” Editor Brian Clark said. “Garth always has had the ability to peel back the layers of a topic. I’m looking forward to hearing his voice, and I feel our readers will, too.”

Before arriving at The Bee in 1993, Stapley, who grew up in Sacramento and delivered the Sacramento Union as a young boy, also worked as a reporter in Manteca, and also for a company that owned newspapers in Oakdale, Riverbank and Escalon.

His governmental coverage at The Bee also included time covering numerous agencies on the West Side.

“Speaking truth to power is an important part of a newspaper’s role in every community,” Stapley said. “The powerful don’t always enjoy being held accountable, but that’s our job and we will do it.

“My gifted and committed coworkers and I are not in this to win popularity contests, but we do want to help people think and talk about what’s important and how it affects their lives. I look forward to continuing the search for truth in a new role.”

In addition to writing editorials, Stapley also will help forward community conversations through letters to the editor, columns submitted by community members and host events to elicit opinions and ideas from readers. He also will serve on The Bee’s Editorial Board along with Brian Clark, Maria Figueroa and visiting editor Melissa Van Diepen.

In addition to his journalism degree at Sacramento State, Stapley has a Master’s degree from Stanislaus State, where he studied international relations. He is a former board member at Habitat for Humanity Stanislaus.

Dunbar, as editorial page editor and a frequent columnist on topics including homelessness, growth and politics, was a multiple-award winner himself, his biggest contribution being his coverage of water.

You can reach Stapley at 209-578-2390 or