Check It Out

Very exciting news — I went to the Press Club of the East Bay (formerly known as East Bay Press Club and also the San Francisco-East Bay Press Club) award dinner Friday night and guess what! I won an award! 😉

The award was for the editorial I wrote about the Alameda Sun (editorial pasted below) on the occasion of the paper’s fourth anniversary. Here is what the judges read:

Editorial:

  • Third Place: Courtney Semple. Contra Costa Times. “Strongest Image After Tragedy Is One of Community.
  • Second Place: Michael Hytha. East Bay Business Times. “Fix Delta Levees.”
  • First Place: Julia Park. Alameda Sun. “A Sunny Anniversary.”

Judges’ comments: “When any local newspaper turns four years old, it’s a cause for celebration. Judging from this confident self-affirming proclamation, the future is bright for this go get-em newspaper.”

That was very exciting, because you know what? I had totally forgotten that I entered anything in that category, and then, because the editorial was so, well, fluffy (see what I mean, below), that I didn’t really expect to win anything. I was just sitting there, a little disappointed as the categories ticked by, thinking, “Oh, well.” I entered several reviews, Modern Muse columns and features, from three separate publications (the Music Scene, Alameda Magazine, the Sun). But I forgot about the editorial. I was completely surprised. May I just say that it was extremely gratifying to receive *that* award — it is such the cream of awards for editors, and all the people from the SF Chronicle, the Oakland Tribune, the Contra Costa Times, Associated Press and more were there. So very cool. Very gratifying indeed to be awarded before one’s peers.

Special thanks to my temporary administrative assistant, Mr. Patrick, for his aid in getting those entries photocopied and to the post office on time (I was on wicked deadline at the time, as I recall). Argh!

So that’s what’s new, as well as the Red Hills Review is now available. In the midst of other deadlines and various family panics and dramas, I will be mailing out copies to all and sundry. If I missed you, raise your hand.

More to tell but I’m on deadline — so here’s the original editorial, below.

(Op-Ed Page/Alameda Sun)

A Sunny Anniversary
By Julia Park

The Alameda Sun is four years old this week. That’s not very old for a newspaper. Looking around the Island, we can see others that have been around much longer, and when we glance across the Estuary or Bay, we see still more newspapers that have heralded news, sports and weather for many years. Back here on the Island, the Sun has prided itself on being the keeper of the flame, the hometown hearth, as it were, from the beginning.
When we first got started, some of our detractors (who said we wouldn’t last six weeks) mocked our content, saying we were “fluff.” Well, my friends, there’s fluff and then there’s fluff. Do you think it’s fluff to write about local kids doing good deeds, running lemonade stands in summer, singing their hearts out onstage? Do you think it’s fluff to write about the efforts of our neighbors pulling together after Sept. 11, 2001, to raise money for the firefighters’ orphans and to support our troops? Do you think our recent coverage of your generous donations to various Hurricane Katrina funds is fluff?
Do you find it fluffy when we write about local theater or local artists? What about our features of local small businesses, kids at schools, street fairs or colorful residents – the very things that people cite as the “small-town feel” they love so much about Alameda? Is it fluff when we thoroughly cover local politics, city council, planning board or crime?
Well, it all depends. We recently entered some of our news stories in the San Francisco East Bay Press Club contest and came up empty-handed. Perhaps it is because our big news stories – the movie theater! Burglaries in the East End! People building without permits! – don’t count in the big picture alongside the San Francisco Chronicle’s grim tales from Iraq and Washington. But here on the Island, issues like what should we do about Measure A (housing) and building homes at Alameda Point, or just how will having a Target store affect our quality of life, really matter to us. And frankly, if no one else is covering the little stories that make up our lives, why shouldn’t we?
Just one example: if you’ve ever had kids and you’ve ever been on PTA, you know that events like school carnivals or auctions come around and need volunteers. There is a lot of planning that goes into those events, and they can consume an entire school for weeks, as parents, teachers and staff rush around to get ready. The entire school is abuzz with anticipation. It’s nice, then, that their local newspaper prints an announcement of the event, and sends a photographer that day, and it’s really nice when a picture of the kids gets printed.
To everyone else on the Island, it’s a 5-second smile. To those who participated, it’s a clip-and-save item that will be treasured for years.
That’s what it’s all about, friends. Multiply that by all the school plays, Girl Scout cookie drives, Boy Scout Christmas tree sales, dance recitals, new business ribbon-cuttings, student athletes, and more, and you see why we do this labor of love. It’s never been about the money. So put that in the dryer and fluff it.
And in case you’re wondering, no, we don’t “just do fluff.” The Alameda Sun was the only newspaper on the Island to write about gay marriage back in February 2004 when weddings were taking place in San Francisco, writing front-page stories about the event. We took on the challenging, exciting topic of being “Asian in Alameda,” when reporter Marcus Tolero did his four-part series, looking at Alameda’s past race relations and prospects for a diverse future.
We took up the gauntlet when on national television former resident Unav Wade declared that Alameda, California, was the most racist city she’d ever lived in America. That was a hot potato that no one else would have touched. But from that comment came a series of several articles in the Sun about racial issues in the city and a day of frank conversation among different ethnic groups in the city held at the College of Alameda – a first on the Island. The Alameda Sun won a Blue Ribbon award for community service from the California Newspaper Publishers Association for that last year.
We also started and continue to support the only literary fair on the Island, Alameda Literati, which continues to grow and attract nationally famous authors and writers from around the Bay. Yes, right here in little old Alameda. Check it out for yourself Nov. 5. When you’re sitting in the audience listening to these authors speak, remember you read about it exclusively in the fluffy old Alameda Sun.
I’d like to thank the community for supporting the Sun from the beginning. I can’t tell you how many times people have stopped in the offices or told me on the street that the love the Sun, and it’s their hometown newspaper. We hope to continue to be that for a long, long time.

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2 Replies to “Check It Out”

  1. omg, i know a real WINNAH! will you still speak to us little people when you go pick up your Pulitzer? congrats, girlfriend… couldn’t happen to a better editor.

    btw, i think of fluff as all the commercial garbage and USA-Todaying dumbed-down graphical junk that’s cluttering so many papers now. pure cotton candy for the kiddies, not much in the meat-and-potatoes department.

    RHR? *waves hand* (or did i send you a check at christmas time? i meant to…)

    xoxo, katje

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