For 112 years, Burbank residents have been able to read, enjoy, admire and sometimes disagree with what has appeared in their community newspaper, the Burbank Leader (formerly known as the Burbank Review).
I am pleased to be the new publisher of this esteemed publication, having been passed that torch by the previous owner, the California Times (the parent company of the Los Angeles Times).
When it was announced about two weeks ago that the final issue of The Leader was upcoming, I simply couldn’t bear to see that happen. I felt that this newspaper’s remarkable legacy, dating back to 1908, needed to be preserved. To put the Burbank Leader launch in historical perspective, Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States, having followed William McKinley. As a nation, we were a little less than a decade away from becoming involved in World War I. That’s quite a history.
Considering this newspaper has been the “Voice of Burbank” for generations, we certainly wanted to preserve the legacy of a one of the oldest publications in California.
Some of you reading today’s Leader may have lived in Burbank for decades. Others might be fairly new to the city. In either case, we want you to feel that this is “your” news. In the weeks to come, you will probably notice some new features in The Leader. We enjoy relaying the “good news,” including profile stories about deserving local residents and organizations which help make Burbank such a wonderful community. Once the school year gets back to normal, hopefully you will like increased coverage of the community’s youth in schools, particularly when it comes to student achievement in academics, athletics, the arts and more.
It is also our job to be a community watchdog. This includes covering the political beat and reporting what elected politicians say and do. Part of this often includes investigative reporting. I feel that state Sen. Anthony Portantino summed things up quite well in his guest column inside today’s edition, when he said that he’s “a believer that through conversation and public scrutiny, policy makers make better decisions. Not having a robust public forum [in a community newspaper] keeps the public out of public policy making.” So that’s part of our role.
But how many of you in years past have also made a regular habit of clipping newspaper articles and photos and sending them to out-of-town relatives and friends? And how many of you have those clippings in your scrapbooks, or possibly magnetized to your refrigerator door? It’s a time-honored tradition that perhaps you will be doing more often.
Our goal is to increase the coverage in this newspaper. As part of this commitment, we have taken a big step in today’s issue; you may have already noticed that the size is now six pages, an increase of 50% from the previous four pages. We want to grow even more and we will be able to do that with the support of the community, in terms of both advertisers and subscribers. (But more on that later.)
One final thing: We encourage you to write us. Send us a Letter to the Editor. We want to know what you like in the newspaper. What do you feel can be improved? How are things going at City Hall and in our local schools?
So, perhaps as you read today’s front page, you may be able to rest a little easier to know The Leader is still here. Mergers and acquisitions have happened in the newspaper industry for more than a century. I’m so pleased to be part of this one.
Let’s persevere through this coronavirus pandemic, hopefully get back to our normal (pre-March) schedules later this year, enjoy reading the fun community and schools coverage in this newspaper and have our business community thriving once again. We will look forward to when those wonderful times arrive.
Charlie Plowman is the new publisher of the Burbank Leader.