There are often contradictory proverbs. “Honesty is the best policy,” goes in opposition to “Discretion is the better part of valor.” In deciding to publish Scott Bridges’ farewell to the Culver City News, I thought about “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” as much as “Brevity is the soul of wit.” While not very brief and more than a bit greasy, Bridges did lean on a lesser-known maxim, “When blowing the whistle, best to be loud.”
It is no surprise to me (or to Ari Noonan, for that matter) that the job of editing the Culver City News under the auspices of Community Media Corp. is not simply a thankless task, but an impossible one. Just kvetching about how badly you have been treated is not newsworthy. Everyone who left that desk left at least bruised or at worst broken. That’s not news.
The Community Media Corp. publishes a second paper out of the office of the News entitled Blue Pacific that is supposed to be distributed in Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades. And it’s not. That is news.
During my time as editor at the News and Pacific, Pacific did in fact get printed and distributed. I used it fairly often to run calendar notes and the occasional ad for events at the Unitarian Church in Santa Monica where I am a member. I can recall several occasions when I asked a friend from the congregation to pick up “Blue Pacific” at one of the distribution points listed and met with success.
Synchronistically, one of those was when noted Los Angeles Times journalist Tim Rutten was the speaker for a lecture at the church. His topic of how crucial journalism- real ethical journalism- is to the health and success of our culture influenced me deeply.
Of course, I had to check out Scott’s claim, and a trip to Santa Monica on the day the paper was scheduled to be distributed proved that it was not at the places I knew it should have been. No, I did not check all of them- I sampled. The people I asked at these locations about Blue Pacific had never seen it. I felt I had sufficient evidence to run Scott’s piece.
It’s one thing to abuse your employees; it’s another to abuse your advertisers. Like many kinds of bullying and abuse, the perpetrator can be led think “I got away with that; what else can I get away with ?”
The logic that allows newspapers to say – we print 40,000 copies; therefore we have at least 40,000 readers – is too weak to stand. When you claim to print a certain number of papers and you don’t – how long will your advertisers think that they are getting what they are paying for ?
The Culver City News is, as everyone who cares has realized by now, only very occasionally interested in the audience it purports to serve. The abuse that they are committing is not only on their employees and their advertisers, but on the entire community.
It’s a shame, because as the oldest paper in town, it should be a jewel – but with a budget that wouldn’t buy lunch at LUNCH, (or George’s Coffee Shop for that matter-) and a stack of responsibilities so tall it blocks out the sky, the editor is just the punching bag for why it doesn’t work. It’s planned to not work.
With Bridges so enthusiastically flipping the bird as his exit strategy, he has deprived himself of the chance of a second act. But he didn’t want one. There are times in life when not only should you burn your bridges, but dynamite any access roads as well. Before the next victim is selected from the infamous ad on Craig’s List, it is time to boycott the News.
I’m talking about tossing the bathwater here, not the baby. With all sincere respect to Mike Cohen and Julie Lugo Cerra, both of whom are very good writers, their continued participation is the only thing making this scam look legit. They are both terrific contributors who never miss a deadline and never get a check. They do this because they enjoy the information they offer and they know you’ll enjoy it too. No disrespect is intended to the other writers who grace the pages, but most of it could run anywhere. It is not, so to speak, Culver-centric stuff. Good copy is good copy in any format, but a local paper should be local.
It’s time for the Culver City community to deprive Community Media of their ability to abuse us. Just pick it up off the driveway, and toss it into the blue recycling bin. Or, even better, put in the compost (sans rubber band, of course.) and allow it to decompose into something useful – mulch.