Just a Thought – ReLaunching

While I remain a creature of words, I must admit, numbers are compelling.

If you have never visited this site before, welcome to Culver City Crossroads. If you’ve been waiting for us to re-launch, then welcome back. We have been covering local news for the last seven-plus years, and in that time span, so much has changed it became more and more important that CCC change as well.

After putting the site on hiatus, the data we got was not at all what we expected.

Over the last seven years, while the tech sector has changed the way we consume news, politics and economics have radically altered the kind of information we are getting. Just a few recent examples: the venerable LA Weekly was purchased by a group of Orange County investors, who then fired almost the entire staff. This past month, another chain of local papers has folded; Eastern Group Publications, a chain of six bilingual newspaper covering an area from Montebello to Vernon, gone. Patrick Soon-Shiong bought the LA Times for $500 million. (That the new editor is Jim Kirk gives me a smile – I think what we might need at the Times is a Jean-Luc.) While it might seem that the hand of economic pressure is exerting more force elsewhere Culver City is not exempt.

The need to support journalism has never been more important.

In the past seven years, the media in Culver City has changed almost constantly, with multiple local news media opening and closing. Magazines launched with fanfare that lasted only a few issues, and web sites that have stayed on only as bulletin boards. Several blogs have come and gone. The huge membership on the (unofficial) Culver City Facebook page almost belies the fact that it is a private group. The Next Door app, while not news, is an active information exchange, The Thursday papers, the driveway ‘throwaways’ hold on with editions that are often only eight pages. Natural that the tide comes in and goes out, we are now at the lowest tide we have been in decades.

As our local businesses have become international businesses, the idea of Culver City has inflated into an almost quantum version of its original self; a dream factory creating new technologies to enchant the world. Still telling stories, this time with VR instead of kinetoscope.

As we also begin to reach towards modeling changes in transportation and housing, moving the idea of what a city looks like, feels like, into the 21st Century, we still need this simple tool to connect to each other – local news.

The numbers that surprised me most were the analytics for December. While we published nothing new, we had slightly more traffic than we had regular readers back in September. It seems that there were more people checking to see if we had come back yet than we previously had as subscribers. We even had new subscriptions – people signing into PayPal as recurring subscribers for $5 a month – for a site that was at a standstill.  The bounce rate was surprisingly low. I mentioned to someone that it made no sense to me that people were reading when we had taken a break from publishing, it was pointed out that there are thousands and thousands of pages archived – perhaps people we just catching up. Seven years is a long time.

Averages, percentages, all that. I’m still dedicated to words.

So, thanks for missing us. With our new edition, we have more to offer, and more to ask of you.

The video section on the site will feature in-depth interviews, event coverage and news highlights. We will be offering some new writers and some old favorites. And we will continue on with our core mission of getting the people in Culver City connected to the government, to the schools and the arts, to all our civic organizations and most importantly, to each other.

At every civic event I’ve attended in the last two months, someone has said “When is Crossroads coming back? We need you.”

Crucial fact – We need you, too. If all of our regular readers became sustaining subscribers at $5 a month, we could spend less time courting advertising, and more time on news. The power of small press can be formidable, but only with committed audience support. Advertising is important, but subscribers are vital. If you want local news, you need to decide how you are going to participate in it.

Here you are, so we are well on our way.

While we still have plenty of international and national news available, and no end of online requests for babysitters or help finding a lost cat, a healthy community really does need something in between the two. Maybe a sort of intersection of journalism about local politics and the news and features about the people most directly affected by those policies. A place to read about who we are and what we do.

Let’s call it a crossroads.

Judith Martin-Straw

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