"And so it begins …"
Or the question I keep asking myself: What in the heck have I gotten myself into?
What I have basically gotten into is what happens when you put your money where your mouth is. This is something that a month ago I had no thought or desire of doing — hadn't even entered my mind.
So then, what brings me here?
It probably started years ago. I have always been a news guy. The guy who wants to know what's going on; the guy who pays attention; the guy who always has an opinion. I like to watch people and their reaction to things, and of course, once in a while stir the pot.
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.
Yet front page ran a story about some woman who had her applesauce taken away at Bob Hope Airport. Just because it happens at an airport in Burbank does not make it local community news that people really want to read.
Now, if you are reading this, you know Dan Evans is a man of his word, allowing me to voice my opinion — uncensored.
And with that said, I will also tell you that Evans has some things up his sleeve to improve coverage in the Leader. It is not for me to say here at this time, but you will start to see some changes that will hopefully return more community news, as well as hard news, to the pages of this paper.
If I see something in the coming months I don't like here, I will bring it up, but that is not going to be my focus. I will be looking around for stories, events or actions I think need to be brought out. It might be politics one week and sports the next — we'll just see where it takes us.
Some of you may like what I write and some may not. That's why we all have opinions. I am just lucky enough that I get to voice my opinion here every week.
Burbank is a good city, with great services and a top school system. I like this city and am proud to live here. Some of the local bloggers may not like what I have to say, but to them, all I can say is "tough taco." I would like to consider my glass half full.
OK, well that's over with. What in the heck do I write about next week?
CRAIG SHERWOOD is the executive editor of BurbankNBeyond.com and a baseball coach at Burbank High School. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.