Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Foster City resident starts community newspaper

A 20-year-old Foster City resident has started a community newspaper with $1,000.

Alexa Hemken, a former College of San Mateo student, is the driving force behind The Lagonian, which is published every other Monday. She launched the paper March 14 and is currently printing 5,000 copies. Those papers are available at 70 locations including two distribution boxes.

"I'm taking time off from community college to see if this will work out," Hemken tells the Press Club. "The truth is that I was not really sure where my education was going, and other than the great journalism classes I was taking (taught by Ed Remitz), I was not very interested in what I was doing there. So I though I'd take a break and do something else, and since there is a lot going on in Foster City, I thought a newspaper might be a good business. I'm about to find out if that's true I guess."

To get the paper started, Hemken dipped into her savings of about $1,000. After three issues, the paper is making enough money to pay for its printing, which has been running about $350 an issue, she tells the CSM student paper, The San Matean, which has a feature story about her today.

Not bad considering that her other expenses are low — she lives with her parents, has no employees, though she has been getting some help from June Bell, a veteran newsperson in Foster City who has worked at papers such as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Dallas Morning News. Hemken also gets help from her parents with delivery.

Hemken's only Foster City competitor is The Islander, owned by Sam Felser and his daughter Marge Felser, which runs press releases, columns by school board members and city council members, and is the official newspaper for printing legal notices for the city government.

(Photo credit: Christine Karavas of The San Matean)


Brad Condon said...

I hope she succeeds. Everybody is writing off daily newspapers, but weekly community newspapers are thriving. Maybe she's in the right place to start one. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

The Islander is pathetic. If she plays her cards right, she will be that dominant paper in that town.