It's been less than four months since I've been back as the editor of The Piedmonter and The Montclarion, and with the year winding down, this is as good a time as any to take stock.
The one thing that I've learned upon my return is how vital and important these community newspapers are -- which I find amazing in this age of iPads, iPhones, Kindles, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and online news sites. Contrary to the prevailing notion that all news is going to mobile devices, I find it comforting that you, the reading public, are interested and passionate about community coverage. And that you still want to see articles in print and put a premium on our comprehensive, fair and balanced coverage.
A recent case in point was our coverage of the controversy surrounding Piedmont High School's "fantasy slut league," in which an email by PHS Principal Rich Kitchens sent to parents and guardians went viral, attracting comments as far away as Finland and leading to radio talk shows and seemingly endless online discussion and criticism -- directed everywhere, at the city of Piedmont, Piedmonters in general, Piedmont High students, parents, the school district and, well, anyone who was a convenient target.
We reported Kitchens' email in our first story over the weekend but Piedmonter correspondent Linda Davis followed that up with excellent, balanced coverage, interviewing school district officials, including Kitchens, as well as some students -- all before the deluge of the international and national media hit Piedmont High and the school district like a tsunami.
Davis subsequently wrote the follow-up story after Piedmont High's journalism students decided to embark on their own investigation of the email. The enterprising students did their own excellent version of watchdog journalism, interviewed students and concluded that the worst fears surrounding the "fantasy slut league" -- with visions of students gone wild that seized just about everybody's imagination -- were wildly exaggerated.
Of course, most of the mainstream media did not choose to pick up on the sobering aspects of Davis' follow-up story or the findings of the Highlander staff, but no matter. We are proud of our balanced, objective, screech-proof coverage of the episode.
However, controversies aren't the only thing that warrant coverage. We hear you loud and clear about more coverage of the neighborhoods and hyperlocal issues that you simply can't find in the larger area newspapers. And I think we've responded -- with the BevMo plans on Piedmont Avenue, the Rockridge Safeway accord in Rockridge, our profiles of Piedmont and hills residents and our extensive coverage of Piedmont's parcel tax issue, Measure Y. But we also realize that we've got plenty of room for improvement.
I always welcome your comments, criticisms and suggestions on story ideas and on how to improve our community coverage. Like our Facebook pages -- Piedmonter (https://www.facebook.com/Piedmonter) and Montclarion (https://www.facebook.com/Montclarion) -- and feel free to leave comments on the pages. My contact information is listed in the staff box on Page A2, but here it is again: 510-748-1658 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your time -- and especially your interest in The Piedmonter and The Montclarion.
Jon Kawamoto is the editor of The Piedmonter and The Montclarion.