Thursday, May 27, 2010

Point Reyes Light sold to local owners; readers unhappy with former owner, former owner not happy with readers

I forgot to include this story in the Morning Brief (and Morning Brief failed to make it into the e-newsletter this morning -- sorry about that).

The San Francisco Chronicle has the amazing story this morning of Robert Plotkin, the former Monterey County prosecutor, and his sale of the Point Reyes Light to a group of local owners and investors.

It's the tale of an outsider who had big dreams for his small town paper acquisition, which was bought for about $500,000, according to the Chronicle story. In the end, Plotkin sold the paper at a loss.

But the fun part of the story is the egos involved, as well as the complete lack of a connection between owner and readers. According to the Chronicle, Plotkin stated that we would become "the Che Guevara of literary revolutionary journalism." I'm sure that was well received by the readers and local residents.

When it turned out that local residents were less interested in Plotkins ambitions, and more interested in their local newspaper's coverage of local news, locals began a campaign to "Take Back the Light", while a competing publisher saw an opportunity and launched a new paper for the area.

Plotkin may be leaving the newspaper business, but it is clear he knows where to place the blame for the disaster:

"Sadly, West Marin did not want editorial excellence. They did not want to see behind the curtain," Plotkin is quoted as saying. "They wanted a newspaper that would record their births, celebrate their accomplishments and habitually congratulate them on living here. But most of all, the neo-romantics of West Marin took themselves too seriously."

Peter Fimrite wrote the excellent story for the Chronicle -- definitely worth reading the complete story. The small details and especially the quotes are worth the effort. My only complaint would be his use of the term "Pulitzer Prize winning paper", but then again journalists are worse than movie stars when it comes to awards and recognition.