Editors’ Notes on founding and working at Mission Loc@l

4 November 2008

Election day madness! Lydia Chavez has been up since 4:30 this morning blogging and editor-ing. At 6:50 pm, as pundits call Ohio for Obama, she shoots photographs of behind-the-scenes action at Mission Loc@l.

and then says,

“Have you seen my birds?”

Her two lovebirds just had babies! Five of them, to be exact. They’re pretty cute.

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Founder/Executive Editor. I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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  1. Suggest you change logo: looks too much like LOCO.
    Editorial point of view?
    Love birds on election day – a parable?
    What is The Mission? Landlord heaven? Political art? Trendy consumerism?
    Would like to see stuff on history of Mission, its role in SF and the world.


  2. Great column. I grew up in McGreogor, a small community of 5,000 in the Heart of Texas region of the state. The McGregor Mirror, the city’s one newspaper, usually published only news of the goings-on in our small town. So in my experience, small town or neighborhood newspapers have always relied on writing about the local people, schools, politics, and so forth to stay in business. One of my favorite news items in the McGregor Mirror was the not-too-well written but nevertheless newsy column about who was having a reunion, who had made fried chicken for long lost relatives visiting for the weekend, who had sat on the front porch last Sunday, visiting with their next door neightbors over ice cream, and who had taken a trip to Six Flags over Texas in the company of lifelong friends. My mother always wanted me to read (well, translate from English to Spanish) what was in that column, which was usually written by a retiree-news hound.

  3. I was just leaving a comment and it disappeared..not sure if it sent or aborted. (My laptop at fault). So, at the risk of repeating myself. GREAT site with some really intriguing content that covers many perspectives on community life. I started navigating around and couldn’t stop. I already plan to go get a St. Obama candle…I had a little trouble with “Reining Chaos” though. Once I navigated to the home page and around to other stories I couldn’t find my way back to it or figure out where it would be categorized. I thought it would be in the “About” section but it wasn’t. I did get back to it since it is listed in the “Popular” links. But I wondered whether this was the introductory editor’s note for new viewers/readers. If I were a local resident I might wonder: which industry? which students? which institution? For non-journalists – and I imagine your viewers will be community people — it might take a bit more big picture explaining…that this is a project of the UC Berkeley J School. Did I miss something or is that on the site already? So, my snese is that it reads a bit like something for a J School audience. And if it’s intended for a community audience of Mission residents and recreators and businessfolk and politicos, then you might need a bit more straightforward explanation. But I am SO OLD SCHOOL! Fantastic wonderful project though. Congratulations to all of you. I am bookmarking you….and about to vote on the condom issue….Lee Romney

  4. The industry has a great opportunity to reinvent itself–both in terms of newsroom models, and ownership/revenue models. Hyperlocal is a good test of old needs (community-based reporting) delivered via new technology. Seems like you have created a great lab and can test: reporters working in a virtual newsroom vs. real bureau, independent journalists reporting under a single/unifying banner (MissionLocal rather than independent blogs, etc.) and reporting within a unifying/shared editorial point of view. Info distribution models & the newsroom atmosphere have been changing since early 90s. What hasn’t changed is the need for the investigation of fact, but this is where some experiments in format & new ownership are failing. (Blogs will rush to press with rumors, and news orgs … struggling to compete on “breaking news” have capitulated. How much more consolidation of ownership can we stand before viewpoints are stiffled?) I am watching/reading MissionLocal and looking forward to what emerges. Next step is to figure out financing. How can this model support itself? Best to you.

  5. Not clear if this site is about journalism students or the Mission or both?
    Are you training j students for new jobs and using the Mission to do this?
    What is “The Mission” and what’s your editorial perspective on it?
    Who are the students working on this? What’s their commitment beyond their careers?