I have been lucky enough to work for many local papers since the mid-'70s. It started with the Burbank Scene (office located on the Golden Mall, just north of where the bums slept at night), and I did stints for the Tolucan, Daily Review, Daily News, and then a majority of my time at the Burbank Times, which I left at the end of last year as the managing editor.
I went on to start a local online news operation called BurbankNBeyond.com, where I was able to cover Burbank news and events on a daily basis and bring it to the public within hours. One of the things I felt obliged to do was write the occasional column.
It was that last column that brought me down this road. Editor Dan Evans called it a "hit piece." I saw it as ripping the way the Burbank Leader does business in this city. Living in Burbank my entire life, and trying to be true to my first taste of journalism taught to me by Steve Campbell at Jordan Jr. High (now Middle School), I simply did not like where I saw news coverage going at a local, community level.
Evans and I talked, and while at first it was a little dicey, we both came to see each other's points. Before we were done, he offered me the chance not only to write a column, but to say what I wanted. If I thought the Leader was not doing a good job, I had the right to call it out. It's easy to take shots, but I have to be willing to step up and be part of the solution.
Take, for example, last Wednesday's Leader. My sense of community is doing a front-page story on the many city employees being honored for their many years of service — some recognized at the City Council meeting — and the lives of the many Burbank citizens they have touched over the years.