Fifty alternative newsweeklies in the U.S. and Canada will publish stories this week to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol. The editorial package, conceived and shepherded by staff at Sacramento News & Review, includes a retrospective by author and environmentalist Bill McKibben commissioned by AAN, a look-back by Kyoto participant Ed Smeloff, a drubbing of ABC News Correspondent and global-warming skeptic John Stossel, and a look at the controversial views of Danish environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg. Many of the papers participating in the project are also contributing their own stories focusing on local climate-change issues. Sacramento News & Review Editor-at-large Melinda Welsh says the anniversary was "a chance to reveal to millions of alt-weekly readers how little distance we've traveled these last 10 years toward a solution to this giant problem we've created for ourselves and future generations." Links to Kyoto Protocol Anniversary stories may be found at kyoto.altweeklies.com.
Facing rising rents and the end of their Sacramento paper's lease, News & Review owners Jeff vonKaenel and Deborah Redmond bought a shuttered commercial building. At the prodding of their teenage daughter and Phil Angelides, former California State Treasurer and last year's unsuccessful Democratic nominee for Governor, the couple are undertaking a green renovation of their new property. The $1.4 million project is scheduled to be complete in the fall of 2008, according to the News & Review. Since the paper will be figuring out much of the green engineering itself, it has given Sena Christian the task of writing a weekly column about the renovation for the next year. "Sure, we want a nice building. But we want something else, too," she writes. "We want to spur the green-building movement in Sacramento. By reporting on local individuals, companies and institutions leading the way, we want to up the ante, ultimately speeding up innovation in the realms of clean technology, energy efficiency and renewable energy."
Ralph Brave, 54, died on Saturday of lung cancer. "We remember him for his brilliance and intensity, his commitment to working for a better world and his depth of heart," say his colleagues at the News & Review.
"On Aug. 30, 1977, when the staff of the Chico News & Review published their first issue, they didn't have much time to reflect on the impossibility of the endeavor," the News & Review staff writes. "Had they stopped to think about it and been reasonable people, they might have given up on the spot. The odds were against them." As part of the paper's special anniversary package, the News & Review also reveals the true identity of film reviewer "Juan-Carlos Selznick," who has been writing for 29 of the paper's 30 years -- he's actually local English professor Pete Hogue.
AAN members won 15 first-place awards in the California Association of Newspaper Publishers' annual contest, led by Palo Alto Weekly, which took home five firsts. Chico News & Review placed first in in three categories; Pacific Sun won two; and Metro Santa Cruz, North Coast Journal, Sacramento News & Review, San Francisco Bay Guardian, and the Santa Barbara Independent each finished in first in one category. The awards were presented in a ceremony Saturday evening.
A 14-year-old girl who ran away from home last month was found by police at a motel after her photo was seen in the Sacramento News & Review's escort ads, the Sacramento Bee reports. Two people were arrested on suspicion that they provided the girl for lewd and lascivious acts.
Almost every major news outlet now invests in buying search keywords through online auctions, according to the Wall Street Journal. The practice has received renewed attention in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, with search terms like "Virginia Tech shooting" and "Virginia Tech massacre" climbing to a cost of $5 per click before settling in at less than 10 cents per click the week after. The Journal also reports that some news organizations are buying search keywords to highlight features on their sites that produce more revenue, like video.
The politically conservative Sacramento Union has purchased two pages of ad space for 13 weeks in the Sacramento News & Review, according to the Sacramento Business Journal. The two pages will be original editorial content, meant to expose the alt-weekly's audience to the Union's ideas. In a press release, the Union's publisher thanks the News & Review for "thinking outside the box and having the courage of their convictions to print another opinion." In the same release, News & Review president Jeff von Kaenel anticipates potential criticism and takes it head on: "The Sacramento Union's pages will contain plenty of content that we will strongly disagree with," he says. "But does that paper have a right to buy space and get those opinions heard? The answer is yes."
Scott Hassenflu will leave the News & Review and the board of the Alternative Weekly Network (AWN) on May 18. In a letter sent yesterday to his AWN colleagues, Hassenflu says his "short term plans" call for "some much needed R & R" and a more active role in a home-furnishings store he co-owns. Hassenflu has served on the AWN board for the past 10 years, and has had a long career in the alternative press, including stints with the Dallas Observer and San Francisco Bay Guardian.
Executive editor Matt Coker notified the Weekly's staff yesterday that he's heading to the state capitol to be editor of the News & Review, LA Observed reports. He replaces Nancy Brands Ward, who left the Sacramento alt-weekly earlier this month. Despite the timing of his resignation, Coker says it's unrelated to the recent comings and goings at OC Weekly. "I want to make it clear that my departure has nothing to do with Ted [Kissell]'s arrival nor the shenanigans involving others who have left the Weekly," Coker says in his e-mail to staff. "The timing just happened to work out that way."