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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

February, 2007

 

Hard Times For Journalists

Newspapers, reporters and free speech itself had a very bad year in 2006. Not just in West Marin. Worldwide, the number of journalists killed reached 81, the highest annual toll in more than a decade. The media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders recently announced that 32 media assistants were also killed in 2006, at least 871 reporters were arrested and at least 1,472 attacks or threats against the news media were registered around the world.
Being assassinated is not usually a problem for newspaper personnel in West Marin, thankfully. I do not have to have body guards standing in front of my office above Smileys in Bolinas, or protecting my kids as they come and go.

Common problems for many small, independent newspapers are advertisers and the government, who regularly put unseemly pressure on publishers and editors to "follow an approved line" in what is allowed to be printed. Independent journalism has also been especially hard hit by economic pressures --- to not speak about sensitive issues. Television news has pretty much turned into spun sound bites of infotainment.

HERE IN WEST MARIN, we are not immune to this growing phenomenon of attempted censorship. In one recent case, a local newspaper self-censored itself very quickly when advertisers showed displeasure at questions about prices in West Marin. The Coastal Post itself has been on the receiving end of organized attempts to deter advertisers so as to try to stop specific news or opinions from being published.

I am mentioning this because, as the Coastal Post continues its redesign, modernizing and editing process, readers should know that we have no intention of being anything other than what we basically are - a progressive activist newspaper. Better looking, computer-savvy and fully edited to a specific standard, but still a progressive activist newspaper! Adding a strong local angle, but still an activist newspaper!

What IS an activist newspaper? Good question, dear reader. A progressive activist newspaper bases its standard on effectively presenting information on local and national issues you may not hear about elsewhere, so that people have enough info to take action. The trend in journalism is sensationalism and "surface feeding" on issues, especially local ones. We intend to buck that trend. I have been in West Marin for eons, it seems. I have seen the waves of change, great personalities come, go and stay -- and much else. Never let it be said we aren't liberal.

Its time West Marin heard about the history, personalities and hard-fought battles for the land here. We are a microcosm of the state and beyond. Every local issue is a thread that leads to a wider understanding of what is going on in our societies. On with the show!

Don Deane
Editor-Publisher



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