City Lights: World's still around, but things are changing here

I know you're all disappointed. And here in the newsroom, we're taking it harder than anyone.

According to the ancient Mayan calendar, the world was supposed to end Friday. The news always slows down around the holidays, so we at Times Community News South were counting on that story for our weekend coverage. We had the layout all prepared, the bylines assigned and instructions given to our photo desk: Just aim the camera at the sky and you're bound to capture something.

Of course, we always do our best to scout out neighborhood stories rather than "localize" national ones. But since the apocalypse would impact Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach and all the other cities in our coverage area, we planned to at least squeeze the story at the bottom of A1.

And now, the 21st has passed and the world as we know it still exists. So we have no choice but to keep putting out content as we always have.

That doesn't mean, though, that we can't shake things up a little. And there's no better time to do it than the start of the new year. Let's begin, then, in the Daily Pilot's Life & Arts section, where we'll implement some eclectic new features after Jan. 1.

Before I go into those, I should mention a change that we've already had in TCN South's arts coverage: We have a new full-time features reporter. Rhea Mahbubani, a native of India who earned a master's degree in journalism from New York University and has interned for the New York Times and other publications, joined us a few weeks back and has written some impressive stories already. We're proud to have her on staff and look forward to her future contributions.

Now, as to the new offerings: Starting the first week of January, the Daily Pilot will debut a section called Spotlight on the second page of B section. Four regular features will rotate in this space, each one showcasing a different aspect of the arts and cultural world.

First in the rotation will be this column, City Lights, which has been a weekly feature for several years in Times Community News. I'm willing to run it every fourth week because I'm a modest person by nature, so I hope that reading my warm, witty, incisive, candid, galvanizing, profound, destined-for-a-Pulitzer-Prize commentary once a month will be enough.

Second will be an interview feature titled Checking In With..., which shines a light on people who work behind the scenes to make the art community run. In this space, you may meet costumers, directors, venue owners, festival organizers and many others. And if you know of anyone who deserves a profile, by all means let us know.

Third will be Talking Shop, written by the excellent Alisha Gomez, who serves as city editor of the Coastline Pilot and contributes our weekly Trend Watch shopping column. In her new feature, Alisha will take a closer look at some of the unique and growing businesses in the Newport-Mesa area.

Finally, we'll debut The Latest, featuring reviews of books, films, CDs and other works by artists who live within our coverage area. If you're an artist or publisher who would like to submit a piece for consideration, please send it to Life & Arts, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA, 92626. Just keep in mind that it's a review section, not a PR spot, so you'll run the risk of our honest opinion.

And on that note, we bid 2012 — if not all of existence — goodbye. Thanks to all the readers who have supported us and offered feedback over the last 12 months, and we hope to hear from you again next year.

MICHAEL MILLER is the features editor for Times Community News in Orange County. He can be reached at or (714) 966-4617.

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