"The focus of daily journalism, where I have spent my entire career, has changed dramatically, especially in the past few years," writes May, who comes to the Weekly from the Arizona Republic. "Many daily newspapers have become increasingly corporate and less focused on printing stories that right wrongs, question the establishment and tell readers what they really need to know. Newspapers like the Weekly fill that void and prove that readers do have an appetite for a good story." She replaces Eric Johnson, who left the paper earlier this year.
The alt-weekly was being sued by Suterra for referencing one of its product's "inert" ingredients in print, but on Friday afternoon lawyers from the company notified the paper that the suit was being dismissed "without prejudice," the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports. Then over the weekend, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered the ingredients be made public, and also ordered that the state immediately resume spraying the product, known as Checkmate LBAM-F. It is being used to eradicate the light brown apple moth.
Monterey County Weekly is being sued by the chemical company Suterra for referencing one of its product's "inert" ingredients, which the company claims are protected as trade secrets under federal law. The Weekly reported on health and environmental concerns related to two of the ingredients (first disclosed by the Santa Cruz Sentinel) in a story last week. On Tuesday, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge rejected the pesticide company's request for a temporary restraining order on the paper. The Weekly has counter-sued the company, asserting its First Amendment right to disseminate information in the public interest.
Eric Johnson says he'll be leaving next month. "I feel sad to have to leave this newspaper," he says. "For the past six years, I've been proud to work with a team that tries every week to create something that can make a difference in people's lives. ... I'll miss almost everything about it, but it's time to go."
The AAN member paper now has the first solar powered business in its home base of Seaside, Monterey Peninsula's largest city. The new 33,700-watt rooftop power plant will meet "virtually all the electrical needs" of the paper's 6,500-square-foot, 35-person office. Owner and CEO Bradley Zeve says he made the decision to install the 162 solar panels after years of waiting for better technology or lower prices. But Zeve tells Weekly reporter Kera Abraham that after a screening of An Inconvenient Truth last June, "I said, 'If not now, when? And if not me, who?'" The photovoltaic power plant cost about $250,000, but the paper will receive a $79,000 rebate from the state of California; the system should pay for itself in 12-15 years. "Concern for the environment has proven to be a good business decision," publisher Erik Cushman says.
Mehdi Shahbazi, a gas-station owner who posts signs accusing big oil companies of price-gouging, has been the subject of three articles by Raul Vasquez in Monterey County Weekly (Nov. 3, Jan. 26, May 4). However, that publicity probably did not prepare him for having his face run alongside Jennifer Aniston's on the AOL News homepage on Friday (screenshot below). Visitors to the site were invited to read Vasquez's stories and vote on whether Shahbazi or Aniston was having the "worst week ever." Aniston won the vote, but Shahbazi can take comfort in the fact that AOL calls him "a hero" who "doesn't suck."
Nearly two decades ago, Bradley Zeve bought a failing Monterey County tourist paper called Coasting and gradually transformed it into what is now Monterey County Weekly, reports Ruth Hammond. Celebrating its 16th anniversary this year, the paper owes its longevity to Zeve's approach: Plan carefully, know your audience, and be prepared to weather disasters. The result is a paper that claims the second-highest household penetration -- around 30 percent -- among papers in the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. "By having a huge household penetration, we have a lot of influence," says Zeve.
Andrew Scutro wanted to see how well American troops communicated with Iraqis when he went to the suffering Middle East nation but confronted some communication barriers of his own. He would have loved to accompany an Iraqi handyman to his neighborhood but was warned that being seen with an American could endanger the man. Freelance writer Whitney Joiner interviews Scutro about the weeks he spent embedded with a civil affairs unit.