It’s hard to believe, but it was 25 years ago this month that a small group of us started the Brentwood News. We had no idea what we were getting into but, especially in the early days, it was crazy, crazy fun.
Money wasn’t an issue; we spent freely in our quest to put out the best paper we could. There were lots of all-nighters on deadline, Brentwood seemed to like its new paper.
Over time, reality caught up with us, especially in the economics department, but I feel good about the role our little paper has played – and continues to play – in terms of connecting people.
There have been times we did real good by bringing something to light that people should know about – although, more and more, that seems to happen via e-mail. I also think we have provided a good forum for all sides to discuss issues when they arise, which they do from time to time.
I can’t tell you how many times someone told me that some story they saw in the Brentwood News caused them to reach out to someone for the purpose of bringing about some good. We even reunited two cousins who hadn’t seen each other in 30 years.
25 years is a significant chunk of time.
On the plus side of the ledger, during that time, we’ve seen: the rise of Kenter Canyon School, thanks to its terrific parent group; the opening of the Kaufman Branch Library; the arrival of The Getty (and the Skirball Center); the decline of the Country Mart, followed by a powerful resurrection; the opening of Archer School for Girls; the creation of the Brentwood Community Council; and a CD 11 that’s all Westside (it used to be part Westside; part San Fernando Valley.)
We also saw the rise and fall and then rise again of real estate values; a refurbished Brentwood Village; and a VA that’s doing more for homeless veterans. Assigning an LAPD senior lead officer (SLO) to watch over Brentwood was a masterstroke – a huge improvement over what we had before. I think the folks who run Barrington Post Office are much friendlier now than they were when we started the paper in 1991.
Recently, the Metro opened up a route that connects Santa Monica to downtown, and the Bundy Station – closest to Brentwood – is seeing a lot of action. Widening the 405 has paid off, I do believe. Coral Tree Café has become nicely entrenched as a popular meeting place.
Perhaps the greatest thing about Brentwood is our people. Everyone seems energized and creative all the time; people are quick to pitch in and volunteer. The celebration of our centennial a few years back was a lot of fun.
Our weather is pretty darned amazing, too.
But nothing can be perfect all the time. The Nicole Brown Simpson/Ron Goldman murders were tragic, indeed; we saw the closing of Duttons Books on a property that is now languishing; the problem of homelessness has grown; the Archer School debates had a way of becoming way too intense and personal; the drought has taken a toll on our Coral Trees. Money from the city to fix things is always in short supply.
Many businesses we used to love are no longer with us. I still miss Regular Jon’s. Same with many wonderful people. Traffic is still with us, but maybe self-driving cars, coupled with more public transportation, will provide some relief.
I’m sure I’ve missed a few things on my list of goods and bads. One thing I think the Brentwood News did well: Very early on, before we even started, we decided that we would not endorse political candidates. This frustrates partisans, but I think it was the right call. Who are we to tell people how to vote?
I’m also proud of all the student interns the Brentwood News has hosted along the way. Brentwood has great kids. I think, in some small way, the Brentwood News helped bring about a spirit of community that didn’t exist before we started. That’s a good thing.
On the regrets side, I should have run a tighter ship from the very beginning. I know some think our currently skinny Brentwood News doesn’t look as impressive as our fatter papers of yesteryear, but, truth be told, we should have started skinny and stayed skinny all along.
Things have only become more challenging with the shift to digital; this is where TJ Montemer, head of Mirror Media Group, now owner of the Brentwood News, is doing a really good job. He’s quite savvy when it comes to online journalism and advertising, video production, social media and the like. The whole industry is trying to figure this out; I think TJ might actually do it.
A special thank you to all my true friends, too many to name here. You know who you are.
Here’s to the next 25 years!