Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Paper for Sale!

The Contra Costa Times is my local paper. When Hubs and I first moved out here, the Times was a thrice-weekly freebie, mostly concerned with shopping ads, news about our neighbors, wedding announcements, and the all-important Youth Soccer and Little League baseball scores. Gradually it grew into a "real" paper, seven-days-a-week with a special Sunday edition, and we had to pay.

The publisher, Dean Lesher, was a local resident and philanthropist. Because he lived in the area, the paper reflected many of the regional issues that were (or should have been) important to residents of Contra Costa County. After his death, the paper was sold to Knight Ridder and the focus became more global and less regional. More of the articles were taken from national wire services and fewer from the neighborhood reporters.

Knight Ridder sold many of its papers to McClatchy News Service and McClatchy is looking to sell some of the smaller papers that don't fit its marketing vision. The Contra Costa Times is one of those.

Contra Costa is one of the largest counties in California and has been growing tremendously over the last 20 years. Jobs have moved out of San Francisco and Oakland to the campuses of Contra Costa where land and taxes are cheaper. CoCo County doesn't have the cachet of San Francisco or Santa Clara, but it is home to some of the movers and shakers of Fortune 500 companies like SBC, Clorox, and Chevron.

I wish that whomever decides to purchase The Times appreciates the need for a newspaper in the area that is truly local in scope. I don't need to read about the trials and tribulations of churches and schools in New York or Tennessee or Texas. I want to read about what is going on in my own backyard.

Parochial? You bet. For national news, I have the San Francisco Chronicle, the TV networks, CNN, Fox, The New York Times, and all the websites I can handle. I want to know what's going on where I live, not only because the local issues affect me directly, but also because I affect them--or have a better chance to.

Besides, over the years I feel like I've come to know some of the feature writers and critics. While they might not be quite like family, they are familiar friends, even if I don't always agree with their opinion.