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Start the Presses:

Answering community queries

May 17, 2010|By Dan Evans

I’ve been with the paper just more than a year now. Nearly every day, I meet new people, and my knowledge and understanding grow.

I met with three groups last week: Jewel City Kiwanis, Leadership Glendale and a journalism class at Clark Magnet High School. Kiwanis groups are well known, and a journalism class is fairly self-explanatory, but Leadership Glendale may be a bit more obscure.

The eight-month program, running from October to May each year, educates participants about the varied aspects of Glendale civic life. The class is run through the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, and participants meet monthly, talking to people within city government as well as representatives from businesses and other institutions. I’m honored they thought the paper was important enough to be included in their curriculum, and humbled they thought I would be a good person to address the group.

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Though the three groups I spoke to varied greatly from one another, I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of their knowledge of, and interest in, the News-Press.

Questions generally focused on concerns about the financial health of the paper, how the Tribune Company bankruptcy affects the News-Press, and how viable journalism is in the Internet age. All are good, tough and fair questions.

The answers are not easy. No one knows whether papers of any type will be around in 100 years. But currently, the News-Press is a profitable enterprise, and no company shutters a paper that makes money. We aren’t going anywhere.

Of course, the fact that the Tribune is in bankruptcy does complicate matters. However, the dealings of bankruptcy lawyers of our corporate owners in Chicago rarely, if ever, touch us in Glendale. Our editorial budget has increased since this time last year, an indication to me that the Los Angeles Times, which oversees the paper, wants the News-Press to be stronger, not weaker.

The last question, on how journalism will function in the Internet age, is a bit fuzzier. I have said in this space before that community journalism is one, if not the only, part of journalism generally shielded from declining revenues and readership. Why? Because if you want to know what the City Council did Tuesday or how the Tornadoes or Nitros did on the gridiron, you need to read the News-Press.

But we need to grow our readership in order to continue to thrive. A soon-to-be-redesigned website, The818Now.com, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds are just some of the ways we aim to do that. We’re looking to add more multimedia to our sites, improving and expanding our real-time news coverage, and increasing the importance and usefulness of our social networking.

We do need to remember, however, that online initiatives can go only so far. The people we write about are not just ink on a page or letters on a screen. It helps to get out of the office and just talk. I’m very glad I got the chance to do that last week, and I look forward to doing it again.


Get in touch DAN EVANS is the editor. He may be reached at (818) 637-3234 or by e-mail at dan.evans@latimes.com.

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