Diablo Views: A comfortable chair, a cup of coffee and thou | October 2, 2009 | Danville Express | DanvilleSanRamon.com |


Danville Express

Column - October 2, 2009

Diablo Views: A comfortable chair, a cup of coffee and thou

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

This is it. My final column in the Danville Weekly, which this week concludes its print edition.

Sure, I'll be online with my editor's blog because I will continue to be the online editor for our DanvilleExpress.com, which replaces the old Danville Weekly Web site. I'm also online editor for the SanRamonExpress. But anyone can post their words online: That's both the beauty and the scourge of the Internet. On the other hand, it takes a special set of circumstances to have one's words come out in print.

What fun it has been to be the founding editor of the Danville Weekly. (It's not so great to be the "final" editor.) To be a founding editor is every journalist's dream.

I was managing editor at our sister paper, the Pleasanton Weekly, when I was asked in early 2005 to be at the helm of the proposed Danville Weekly. How exciting it was that April when art director Shannon Corey designed the new paper based on her experience with the Pleasanton and Palo Alto Weeklies. We had long discussions about what worked and what didn't, and our vision for the new Weekly. The result was the attractive, lively and versatile Danville Weekly. Inspired by this, the reporter and I brainstormed, networked and spent long hours tracking down news in our four towns (Danville, Alamo, Blackhawk and Diablo) to live up to our mission statement: "to be the most incisive, thoughtful and trusted source of news ... and to aggressively pursue stories ... and present them in a compelling, lively and useful manner."

An often-heard reaction to our plans to start the newspaper was: "What are you going to write about? Nothing ever happens in Danville." But as an experienced community journalist, I knew that there was plenty going on. I'd been a reporter in Walnut Creek, Concord, Pleasant Hill, Martinez and Benicia, as well as in Pleasanton, and I knew how people love to read about their fellow residents, from when they find a 4-foot rattler in their garden to when they host wild parties in the hills. Residents are also interested in what happens at council and planning meetings so they'll know about new buildings and housing projects while they are still in the planning stages, not after they're being built. The more we got to know Danville, the more fascinating and complex we found it. And Alamo! What a treasure trove of personalities, events, traffic problems and intrigue. We were proud to cover the incorporation attempt. If we didn't cover issues or happenings more thoroughly, it was only due to time and staff constraints.

Good newspapers are produced by creative staff members who feed off each other's energy and knowledge; I've been fortunate to have this with our writers, designers and ad staff in our Danville office. Each of the four young reporters who worked for the Danville Weekly over the years brought his and her own background and skills to the job. When Geoff Gillette, an involved Danville dad with solid experience in news reporting, joined the staff 14 months ago, our news coverage became even more comprehensive. The print edition has been incredibly time-consuming to produce, so its demise will free me up to gather and write for the online edition. News also will be covered by freelancers, hopefully to include Geoff, as well as Bay City News Service and our other publications. And I hope that everyone continues to send us their news and photos so we can share that information.

My greatest sadness at the demise of the print edition is disappointing our fans, who have told me that they live in the perfect town with the perfect newspaper. OK, maybe that's not my greatest sadness because I'm really more selfish than that. I will miss producing the Danville Weekly and being able to put stories and photos into print for a public that was supportive and generous with its feedback. I will miss the pride I took in each and every issue when it was delivered to our Danville office, as I apprehensively turned the pages fearing a glaring error while admiring the interplay of stories, photos and opinions. On the other hand, many people have told me that they already only read us online. This is encouraging because it is where my energy will now go.

Life is all about phases. Next, since I'm too young to retire and become a crotchety old lady who bores people by talking about the good old days of "real" newspapers, I'm looking forward to producing the Danville Express and the San Ramon Express. Another challenge! I'm determined to convert our faithful readers to our Web editions and to let them see that we are still their best hometown news source. See you at DanvilleExpress.com - sign up for delivery to your e-mail inboxes to begin five days a week on Monday, Oct. 5. Yikes! There's no time to be sad.

-Dolores Fox Ciardelli can be e-mailed at editor@DanvilleWeekly.com.


Like this comment
Posted by Hal Bailey
a resident of another community
on Oct 2, 2009 at 8:31 am

Dear Dolores,

What are the boundaries of the Danville Express? Can we assume that Alamo, Diablo, Blackhawk and more are included? Is Alamo to be left to Sam Richards, Editor, Walnut Creek Journal and The Valley Times? Is Alamo to rely only on Alamo Today for discussion of issues?

Each area is unique in its issues and interests with much quite different from the focus of Danville. Danville is considerably different north and south of Diablo Road. So, Dolores, how will Danville Express "express" the diverse issues and interests of our region?