By Anthony Portantino
Special to Burbank Leader
Folks needed some good news and the continued publication of the Burbank Leader and Glendale News-Press was just what the doctor had ordered. Every small town needs a forum for local news and community interests to be covered and discussed. The absence of a community newspaper makes robust public discourse far more difficult and far less public.
The announcement by the L.A. Times that the Leader and News-Press were originally to be closed deeply affected Burbank and Glendale. Residents and business owners expressed disappointment and fear that issues which would benefit from the sunshine provided by local media coverage would be kept out of the public forum.
Letters to the editor and the public recap of the details from City Council and school board meetings are important components for a healthy community. Knowing what’s going on at the Chamber of Commerce or inside the PTA help residents grasp the flavor and nature of what’s happening in their city. Unfortunately, our complex society and busy daily family lives have increased the distance between policy and opinion makers and the public. Prolonged darkness doesn’t serve our children or the health and welfare of our neighbors and neighborhoods. The many people who expressed concern over the shutting of the local papers were right to have expressed themselves.
My entrance into public service began at about the same time the Plowman family began publishing the Outlook newspaper in La Cañada Flintridge. The Outlook thrived while many other newspapers in our area suffered. The Outlook now covers the cities of South Pasadena, Pasadena, San Marino and La Cañada Flintridge, succeeding where others failed. One of the reasons for that success was its publisher’s “community first” focus. Based on what I see in Mr. Plowman’s other newspapers, I expect the News Press and Leader to continue that same approach. Mr. Plowman is a local resident, who invests a tremendous amount of time into learning the nuances of the cities he covers. He translates that familiarity into his community focused publications. Don’t expect these papers to replace the L.A. Times, Woodward and Bernstein, Fox News, CNN or MSNBC. They won’t, but then we have those other regional and national outlets.
I encourage community members to engage the new leadership of our two local newspapers and help them grasp your lives and the community you live in. It’s been my experience that they want to hear from you.
From my 20 years of observation, the Outlook has succeeded because it printed the details of what happened for public review. Having those facts at our fingertips in a timely manner helped all of us make better decisions. I look forward to reading about the goings on in the two communities I am honored to represent and I wish the new publishers of the Leader and News-Press good luck!
I am a believer that through conversation and public scrutiny, policy makers make better decisions. Not having a robust public forum, keeps the public out of public policy making. That local forum just got a shot in the arm!
State Senator Anthony J. Portantino serves the 25th District, which includes Burbank and Glendale.