Editorial, Featured

La Prensa Celebrates 41 Years of Service to the Community

December 1, 2017

By Arturo Castañares / Publisher and CEO

In 1976, the vision of one Chicano leader led to the creation of a community newsletter that has now become the largest Latino newspaper in San Diego County, available each week in news racks from San Ysidro to Escondido and Oceanside, and anytime online and on social media platforms.

Through all the change that has occurred in San Diego and the world in the past 41 years, La Prensa San Diego has covered the news in 2,127 issues, never missing a weekly deadline.

And we don’t plan to stop anytime soon.

Even in this fast-changing world of instant news access, an old-fashioned print newspaper is not only still relevant, but may be more so than ever before.
As large regional papers continue to merge into even larger corporate entities, local community papers maintain a connection to our neighborhoods, our people, and our shared experiences.

New restaurants like Barrio Doggs on Logan Ave. and Pisco in Liberty Station are introduced. Inspiring leaders are profiled each week to share their impactful stories. And the importance of Chicano Park’s recognition as a National Historic Site is explained in context of its true historic importance.

Following and reporting on local and national political issues is also an important part of our work. Over the past two years, our focus on the discussions of hot-button issues like immigration, health care, and homelessness have helped inform and educate our communities on the latest proposals, and how politicians are representing us, or not representing us, on those issues.

In the past two years, we have also expanded our investigative reporting capabilities to research and expose political corruption and misuse of public funds by local agencies. Our breaking stories have taken on school district officials, city leaders, and even law enforcement agencies for failing to uphold their responsibilities to our community. Transparent and honest public service is a cornerstone of building and maintaining the public’s trust.

The term ‘newspaper’ may seem anachronistic, but it means more than just ink on a few pages of newsprint. It takes a team of dedicated staff and reporters to inquire, investigate, and compile the news. The delivery may be in print on Fridays, but it’s also online in real-time through our website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

But local papers must continue to develop their deep roots in the communities to maintain their relevance. This model isn’t new; it’s actually very old.
Newspapers in the 19th and early 20th centuries were much more politically active and engaged than in the past 50 years, as more became owned by faceless corporations. Individual newspaper owners sold out to media groups that merged dozens and even hundreds of papers into a homogenized blend of sister outlets.

Even Warren Buffett, the most successful investor of our time, has owned 32 daily newspapers and 47 weeklies for years, betting that local newspapers can still deliver compelling content and survive well into the digital future.

To survive, though, local papers must be more than casual observers of the news.

Unlike an autopsy that details what has already happened, local papers must not just report on, but also participate in, the debate on important issues.
In an October 2015 article, columnist Joe Mathews wrote about changes at the Los Angeles Times that ended a bold attempt by its Publisher to return to the old days of civic activism by local papers. The LA Times Publisher was fired by the Chicago-based bosses of its parent company.

Mathews declared that if local “newspapers are to survive, they’ll have to do much more than publish the news. They’ll have to be direct actors in political and civic debates, combining journalism and activism in ways that make their importance indisputable.”

That model of journalistic activism can help empower communities through civic participation and, ultimately, political mobilization. What better goal can a community paper have than to help lift its brothers and sisters through information, education, and action.

When Boston Red Sox owner John Henry bought the Boston Globe in 2013, he wrote a personal message to readers that explained that “great institutions, public and private, have stewards, not owners.” Through his direct ownership, Mr. Henry has returned a great old regional newspaper to its roots as a local, albeit large, community newspaper.

La Prensa San Diego is a local community resource, and we are merely stewards of it for a time.

For 41 years, San Diegans have placed their trust in La Prensa San Diego to deliver news, information, and commentary that informs and empowers our people.
As we celebrate our 41st anniversary, we recommit ourselves to continuing to build on our past and find ways to keep La Prensa San Diego fresh, engaging, and relevant into the future.

On behalf of our staff, we thank our readers, sponsors, and friends for all their support over the years, and look forward to continuing to serve the community of San Diego for many more years to come.

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