Local Newsmen Plan NEW Newspaper - Seek Investors
JOHNSON AND LOBDELL PLAN A NEW NEWSPAPER!
In response to my earlier post, late Monday afternoon I received information from an extremely reliable source who informed me that former Daily Pilot publisher Tom Johnson and former Daily Pilot editor and Los Angeles Times journalist Bill Lobdell - two of the most highly-regarded newsmen in our area and the duo credited with saving the Pilot from extinction in the 1990s - have been meeting with several Newport-Mesa community leaders recently about their proposal for a NEW daily community newspaper that would be delivered via the Internet and, on specific days, in print.
According to my source, Johnson and Lobdell are looking for investors who see the value in giving our community back a quality newspaper that will last deep into the 21st century. I did some checking around today and one person familiar with the Johnson-Lobdell plan says the business model is "intriguing".
There is precedent for such an "online first" approach. One such example is in San Diego, where a non-profit online newspaper, voiceofsandiego.org, which you can view HERE, was launched to fill what the founders thought was a gap in credible, timely news coverage of that area. It seems to be working. When you visit the site you will see that it is crisp, easy to read and utilizes extensive audio and video clips on many of it's stories. The stories are timely and well-written.
THE LOS ANGELES TIMES AND TCN ARE SHAKY
With the shaky condition of the Los Angeles Times under the Tribune Company umbrella - and the inevitable ripple, er, tsunami, coming down to the Times Community Newspapers and our Daily Pilot - it wouldn't surprise me at all to see our local newspaper of record for the past century cease to exist in the not-too-distant future. That would be a calamity for our community.
THE REGISTER IS SINKING, TOO
The Orange County Register has been in dire straits for months and has been rumored to be on the block in recent weeks. One rumor has the Register being bought by the Los Angeles Times - apparently the combined weight will help them both sink faster! The demise of the Register and The Times (including the Times Community Newspapers) would leave our communities with no source of news and information.
HACKS CAN'T FILL THE GAPS
Some egotistical hack writers who operate local blogs have voiced their opinion that locally-written blogs could fill the gap if the Daily Pilot should disappear. That's absurd. None of us are "journalists" - we don't have the resources to gather and verify the real news. We write opinion, which sometimes includes facts. In my opinion, we simply MUST have a reliable source of news and information available to us - so we can keep the local politicians honest, for starters.
KEEPING OUR FINGERS CROSSED FOR THEM
I hope Tom Johnson and Bill Lobdell are able to find investors and pull this off. The Newport-Mesa community deserves a local, reliable source of news and information. The hybrid model - online first, print to follow - seems like an excellent solution. We look forward to hearing more about this plan and will report any future news as we receive it.