What is El Cerrito Patch?
Some call us an "online newspaper." I sometimes say we're a "news site devoted exclusively to El Cerrito." Both are true but incomplete.
Yes, we'll publish articles, commentaries and photos just like newspapers, and we subscribe to the strict standards of professional journalism. We aim to be fair, accurate and probing -- without fear or favor.
But we'll do a lot more. We'll not only offer the advantages of the Internet by adding video, links to related material, and immediate access to a growing reservoir of information about El Cerrito, but we'll also serve as a forum for community discussion and information where readers can post their own comments, announcements and upcoming events.
We hope you'll take advantage also of our comprehensive directory, which represents the work of a local team working many weeks. Maybe you met one of them around town, taking photos and gathering details about every business, restaurant, school, religious institution, civic organization, non-profit group, agency and park. We believe it's the most complete and detailed mini-encyclopedia for El Cerrito to be found anywhere. If you find something missing, let us know.
And while El Cerrito Patch is devoted exclusively to El Cerrito, we are able to pursue our mission with the backing of the growing Patch family. We belong to a national Patch network of local news sites that you can see at patch.com.
Why are we doing this?
I've been delighted by the response I've received in the past several weeks as I've attended meetings and talked to many of my neighbors, other residents, business people and various city officials about our plans. I've been deeply gratified by many words of encouragement for restoring vigorous community news coverage that has long been shrinking as the traditional print and broadcast media struggle with rapidly declining resources.
Those of us who want to keep the American press strong and independent realize that we face a major threat to our future. In my view, the health of our democracy depends on the outcome. Citizens can't make well-informed decisions if they don't have unbiased, reliable and independent sources of information.
At the same time, the Internet offers us a major opportunity. I see Patch as part of a historic effort to build the Fourth Estate online, community by community.
Our open door
Ultimately El Cerrito Patch belongs to the El Cerrito community. My title is "editor," and that's one role I play, but I'm also the custodian, receptionist and 21st-century switchboard operator charged with maintaining a resource that strengthens the community's ability to communicate.
There are many ways that members of the community can participate. You can post comments on our articles and engage in discussion about the topics we cover. You can add announcements or events. If you represent a business or other organization, you can "claim" your listing in our directory and add material to it, even have it serve as your homepage.
If you have news tips or story ideas, our ears and email in-boxes are always open. If you just want to give us general feedback on how we're doing, feel welcome to do so. If you see any errors, bias or significant omissions in our coverage, please let us know. And we don't mind hearing from you if you find something that pleases you.
If you'd like to contribute articles, opinion columns, photos, illustrations or video, we welcome your ideas. Our contributors include veteran journalists, aspiring journalists and people who just want to dip their toes into journalism and see how it feels. And we have contributors who don't care if they're committing "journalism" or not, but who have something they'd like to offer the readers.
I look forward to hearing from you and helping make El Cerrito Patch a valuable resource for the community.