Saturday, June 9, 2007

Paper's changes spark protest, competition

A new publisher's attempt to turn the Point Reyes Light community weekly into "The New Yorker of the West" has sparked a demonstration (see flyers above) and the launch of a competing newspaper, according to today's Chron by Peter Fimrite.

Joel Hack and Scot Caldwell of the Bodega Bay Navigator plan to start the new west Marin County paper next month. It will feature several former Light employees who left after former prosecutor Robert Plotkin bought the Light in 2005.

"What we are hearing from folks is that they are so glad we are going to be covering their community," said Hack, who promised lots of pictures and names of locals. "People want to know about themselves. That's the function of a community newspaper." Plotkin is suing Hack for hiring the Light's former owner, David Mitchell, to write for him in violation of the Light sales agreement.

Monday's protest is being organized by Elizabeth Whitney, who is seen at left heading out to post flyers for the demonstration. She told the Chron that to make room for a number of interns, Plotkin fired most of the Mitchell-era employees who had not already quit. He also hired a firm from Tampa, Fla., to redesign the paper, a change she described as horrifying. "Since Plotkin started a year and a half ago, it has just been one outrageous thing after the next," said Whitney, a 64-year-old former community newspaper publisher. "I want to wake people up and say, 'Yeah, well you can do something about it.' "

Plotkin told the Chron he isn't worried about the new competitor. "There will be a flash of interest in any new publication," he said. "People love the spectacle of a media war, but the long-term viability of a company trying to start up a newspaper in Marin is improbable. Dave (Mitchell) had three papers start up against him, and each time it was a burden, but one that eventually passed." (Photo credits: Flyers and Whitney by Kurt Rogers, Chronicle; Light cover by PPC)

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