Linda Xiques became a San Quentin News adviser in the spring of 2013. Six years earlier, she had retired from a 30-year career in journalism thinking she had put deadlines behind her for good. But from the moment she walked into the office of San Quentin News —the computers clicking, reporters talking, joking, the vibe full of energy and movement—she was glad to be back in a busy newsroom again.
Like the men she now helps to mentor, Xiques learned her journalism skills while on-the-job. A newspaper reader since childhood, she also loved writing, was co-editor of her high school newspaper and worked on college publications. Her academic career was sporadic: Cameron College in Oklahoma, Merritt College in Oakland, College of Marin in Kentfield, with an end-goal of San Francisco State University. But life—marriage, children, the rambunctious Sixties—kept getting in the way. Feeling the years slipping by, Xiques decided to see what she could accomplish without a degree.
She began freelancing for various publications in the Bay Area, learned research techniques by volunteering, was hired as a part-time, then full-time reporter, and in 1982 was promoted to Managing Editor of the Pacific Sun, a well-respected alternative newspaper in Marin County. As a reporter, she received two San Francisco Press Club awards for her writing. A year after becoming an editor, Xiques won an award for Lifestyle Editing in the national Penney-Missouri Journalism Competition of 1983; two years later, she received a second award in the 1985 competition. In 1984, the California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA) honored the Pacific Sun with a First Place Award for General Excellence, as well as awards for in-depth reporting and feature writing.
In Xiques’ 24-year tenure as Managing Editor and later Executive Editor of the newspaper, Pacific Sun reporters collected a total of 55 writing awards from press organizations such as the San Francisco Press Club, the CNPA, the Association of Alternative Newspapers, the Peninsula Press Club, the Lincoln Steffens Awards for Investigative Journalism, as well as others.
This recognition received by the writers Xiques worked with and mentored remains a source of great pride for her.