I am a California boy, raised in McKinleyville, about an hour south of the Oregon border. Redwoods were all around me and just about every neighbor girl had a horse. It was a fairly ideal childhood.
Since I was 7-years-old I had planned to be a writer and I got into newspapers because I wanted to be a sports writer. And I was, until a U-2 spy plane flying out of Beale Air Force Base crashed into my first newsroom in Oroville. I stumbled out the smoking building, in shock, and wrote a story about it for the Sacramento Bee. I have basically been writing hard news ever since.
After working at daily newspapers in Chico, Marysville and Grass Valley, I came to the Monterey Bay in 2000 to lead the Register-Pajaronian in Watsonville. For such a little newspaper, it was a wild ride. We caught the mayor carousing on his wife, exposed the Latino Chamber of Commerce as a phony enterprise, and generally raised a lot of questions about a city that seems to constantly be the target of the county grand jury for its mismanagement of money and secret deals.
In 2012, I launched a new newspaper across the Monterey Bay, the Monterey Bay News & Views. I did it because I still believe in newspapers. Unfortunately, the venture failed, but it didn’t alter my belief in newspapers.
Because people still read them and look to them as a legitimate, reliable news source. It’s rare to see news on TV, despite three big 24-hour “news” channels on cable and the abundance of bloggers on the Internet do little more than spread rumor.
There is a lot of junk on the Internet — so much so that few people surf the same sites and see the same stuff. It’s also a hassle to search for new sites. If somebody hands you a card with a website printed on it, how often will look up that site to see what is on it?
The Internet is an endless sea that one’s message can drown in. There are few newspapers left — and they stick out. If somebody mails you a newspaper, or there is a free one sitting in a rack by the grocery store, most often you read at least some of it. Scanning through it is much easier that surfing through a web site looking for something. It’s also a pleasant, tactile experience — a whole different appeal than surfing the web.
I look forward to being here. It’s fitting that the deadline for this first edition I am involved with is on my birthday. I love newspapers and I believe a good community paper is essential to a well-informed and involved community. If you have any suggestions on how we can improve or story ideas, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Jon Chown is the editor and general manager of the Press Banner.