Thursday, September 3, 1998
There are days it seems like a long, strange trip, and on other days it seems incredibly straightforward and short.
In the last couple of weeks, we''ve been rummaging through old copies of Coast Weekly and nearly forgotten corners of our brains, dredging up the issues and events in our history--and the history of Monterey County--that have marked our first 10 years. It''s been a surprise to discover how fresh some of the memories have felt when looking back at some of our earliest papers.
It''s also amazing how many of the same challenges facing our community have persisted for the duration of the decade: ensuring an adequate water supply for both the Peninsula and the Salinas Valley, deciding the most beneficial reuse for the former Fort Ord, freeway projects in Prunedale and Hatton Canyon, the ongoing political turmoil in Seaside, to name only a few.
But the issues that we have covered are only a part of our history. Behind each and every edition, there''s been our personal history--the collected stories of the people who put the paper out each and every week. And this history, too, has its importance.
Although we''re a much bigger (and we''d like to think more sophisticated) paper than we were when we first started, we''re still a relatively small company that takes pride in being feisty in its coverage of local events and issues, creative in our ability to meet challenges and determined to produce a good paper that keeps faith with our community.
Although Bradley Zeve had bought Coasting and taken over as publisher in September of ''88, it seems to me that we really started down the road to become Coast Weekly in October of that year. One Wednesday, the person who had been serving as interim editor walked off the job, leaving us to our own devices. Our incoming editor, Craig Carter, had not yet started the job, and my experience with the paper had been limited to short event write-ups and theater reviews. Zeve, and then-associate publisher Shelley Spencer, had, up until that time, been devoting most of their energy to cleaning up the paper''s significant fiscal problems.
In short, none of us had much idea about how to put out the next week''s paper. On the other hand, there was no question about delaying the issue, or cancelling the paper for a week. During an emergency meeting, over blue corn chips and Anchor Steam beer, we decided to publish the paper come hell or high water. And we''ve continued to do so for 10 years now.
If anything has marked Coast Weekly''s personal history, it''s that kind of determination that has been the hallmark of our staff''s personality. We''ve weathered earthquakes and floods, the closure of Fort Ord and the sometimes tempestuous business climate of Monterey County. (Not to mention a string of computer problems that seem to crop up just when we''re the busiest. This week, for instance, something ate the brain of production director Sarah Sweeny''s computer and left little besides corrupted files behind.)
We''ve also plowed our way through more intimate triumphs and tragedies: births, deaths, romantic breakups and marriages. There have been staff transitions that have been challenging; departures by people whom we consider friends as well as coworkers, and the arrival of new people to take their place.
There''s a long roster of people who have worked with us for a while, made their contributions to Coast Weekly and the community, and have moved on. Few of them have gone to work for other weekly papers. What we hope looks effortless when the paper hits the street on Thursday is usually anything but easy. Our constant efforts to produce a better paper can be wearying.
But for most of us, we have a perseverance that is born out of the conviction that what we''re doing is important, that in our own ways we are making our community a better place for all of us. And that concept of community is important: For most of us, Monterey County is our home; it''s not a rung on a career ladder, and you are our neighbors as well as our readers. As we have grown, we have tried to make sure that we always remain a part of the community, that we''re never apart from it.
Certainly, we''d like to think that our bond with the community at large is our greatest strength. Unlike many mainstream papers or papers that are owned by out-of-town corporate interests, we don''t have a cookie-cutter with which we stamp out each week''s issue. And, although we share a common look with many of our alternative paper cousins around the country, our coverage, in tone and topic, is often quite different.
While most other papers in our genre were founded and have grown up in towns with major universities, we have thrived in a community that only now is beginning to see the impact of California State University Monterey Bay. With no large college crowd to rely on, we have developed a writing style that is more accessible and acceptable to a community that is extremely varied in terms of age, ethnicity, economic standing and political viewpoint. In creating Coast Weekly, both in the very beginning and every week, we try to stay focused on our role in communicating to and with our chosen community.
As you read the following pages, you''ll find the issues, topics and discussions that we''ve covered over the last decade. It''s our history, and it''s your history; we''re all in this together. At the same time this issue celebrates our anniversary, it also provides a chance for us all to gauge where we are as a community, to see where we''ve been, and maybe to think--at least a little--about where we''re all going in the next 10 years.
Hopefully, by the time we celebrate our 20th anniversary, we can still find satisfaction in some of the littlest things. If we''re still sane, we''ll take pride in making an impact on local politics and institutions, and we''ll still smile when we see the effect we have on attendance at various events around the county. Those things now certainly make us feel good about what we do.
But, even more importantly, we hope we never lose the thrill we feel everytime we walk into a restaurant or a coffeehouse or wherever we find you reading a copy of Coast Weekly.
After all, that''s what we''re all about. And as long as you keep reading us, we''ll keep putting out a paper.