San Diego CityBeat is 20 weeks old today, and the dawn of a new year is as good a time as any to reflect on what this infant newsweekly has done and also look forward a bit.
What the paper's done is easy; it's given the city of San Diego another voice-no more right or wrong than any other media voice in the city, just one that's maybe a little different. Frequent readers know that CityBeat leans pretty far to the left. In fact, assistant editor Will Shilling likes to joke that we lean so far to the left that we walk in circles.
We thought that's what San Diego needed—a paper that takes a progressive, populist view of politics and society. And judging from the feedback we've received—in letters to the editor and in personal communication with readers—a lot of folks agree.
Starting a paper is no easy thing, so I'll take this opportunity to say how much we appreciate the readers who pick the paper up every Wednesday-whether it's new readers looking at the opinion, news and features or it's loyal readers of SLAMM, the paper's previous incarnation, continuing to follow the best music coverage in town. If the dwindling number of unread papers coming back each week is any gauge—and it most certainly is-we know more and more people are discovering CityBeat.
We are also grateful for our advertisers, who are our lifeblood. Already a few have expressed concern over something they read in the paper. Some have been contacted by angry readers and encouraged to stop running their ads with us. It's a powerful thing for a business owner to have consumers threaten boycott unless he or she stops advertising, and we're glad most advertisers understand that while a provocative paper alienates some readers, it also attracts many others who will, in turn, see their ads and shop in their stores.
If you're a frequent reader, you know that we have prided ourselves on stories about communities of color, people with lower incomes, the gay community, education and other children's issues. We've also established ourselves as a paper with biting and often humorous coverage of local politics and politicians, and it's clear we're not afraid to be very, very opinionated. We've done a little bit on threats to the environment, and we pledge to do more. Of course, our staple is comprehensive coverage of the alternative music scene in San Diego, and we'll get better and better in the areas of film, live theater, visual art and lifestyle.
As long as we're looking into the future, here are some of the things we'd like to see happen in the coming year, in no particular order:
We'd like to see better communication and less rigidity in San Diego City Schools and more attention paid to environmental threats to children's health, particularly in low-income communities. We hope that last year's talk of providing more affordable housing wasn't just lip service and that local police officers won't always feel the need to pull the trigger so quickly.
We'd like to see an increased effort to use renewable-energy sources wherever possible and maybe even some lively debate about creating a public power authority. We'd be grateful if the ongoing transformation of East Village gives careful consideration to the people who live and work there. And let's make sure we're doing everything we can to improve the water quality in San Diego Bay.
And we want to see the City Council make a bold move by passing a living wage ordinance this year, as well as continue to improve the public-transportation system and find a balanced solution to the Chargers dilemma that has the interests of the public foremost in mind.
Let's all make a deal: you shapers of public policy make decisions only in the interest of a happy, healthy citizenry; you readers spread the word about CityBeatand act on its information when you feel so inclined; and we'll promise to be increasingly good at putting out a paper every week that's smart, bold and fun to read.
So, can we shake on it?
-David Rolland, editor