Former Collegian advisor, longtime reporter remembered for his storied career

Retiring Fresno Bee reporter George Hostetter is presented by Mayor Ashley Swearengin with a plaque honoring him with George Hostetter Day for his service to the community, as members of the City Council look on. (John Walker/The Fresno Bee)

When George Hostetter began working as the adviser of the Collegian in 2016, he was fresh out of an esteemed career as a reporter in Fresno for nearly three decades.

Hostetter died Thursday of prostate cancer. He was 70 years old.

He began working full time at The Fresno Bee in 1987 as a sports reporter then moved to covering business before taking over the Fresno city government beat. 

Hostetter covered pivotal projects in Fresno, including downtown Fresno revitalization and the closing of the Fresno Metropolitan Museum in 2010.

Fresno city council members and then-mayor Ashley Swearengin declared Oct. 22, 2015 — the day before Hostetter’s retirement — “George Hostetter Day” in the city of Fresno.

After a 28-year career at the Fresno Bee, Hostetter was set to take what he had learned from his well regarded career and work with the students at The Collegian to develop more journalists. 

“I’m not lending students my expertise,” Hostetter said when he became the advisor for the paper. “I’m joining their collaboration. Now the pressure is on me to keep up. I’m reminded of the words of Tommy Esqueda, the city of Fresno’s public utilities director, immediately after the City Council approved the mayor’s $429 million upgrade to the municipal water system: ‘Don’t screw it up!’”

In a statement Friday, Fresno Mayor Lee Brand remembered Hostetter as a “consummate journalist – tough, dogged, curious and always fair. Not much escaped George’s keen eye in his pursuit of the story and I always knew that in the end, he would not just get to the bottom of whatever he was investigating, but also get it right.”

Fresno State graduate and former Collegian News and Managing Editor Chueyee Yang recounts how nervous she was to meet Hostetter when she learned she would be working with him at the paper. 

“When I heard that he was the famous George Hostetter — I was scared and nervous to see how he would edit my articles,” Yang said. “Little did I know he was the most humble journalist I have ever met. I handed him an article I wrote, and when he sent it back, he said, ‘Good job Chueyee,’ and gave me a thumbs up — that was his signature while he was The Collegian’s adviser.”

Former Collegian Editor-in-Chief Cresencio Rodriguez- Delgado talked about Hotsetter’s tenacity to teach students about the values of journalism. 

“He showed a true commitment to making sure students were heard and understood just as he taught us how journalism works,” Rodriguez-Delgado said.” As editor, I usually was faced with some difficult decisions, but George was there at the right time to help guide me and other students through scary days. He made it exciting to be a journalist and showed us why stories matter.”

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